EA, Activision, Ubisoft, & Others Agree To Loot Box Odds Disclosure Rule

TJ Denzer,

August 9, 2019 9:05 AM

With the negative vibes surrounding microtransactions, major video game companies under the ESA have agreed to disclose loot box prize/rarity odds.

There’s no doubt about the current mood on microtransactions and loot boxes in current gaming society. The mere mention of the two words in context of any game is enough to set louder ends of the community buzzing angrily for days on end. The negative connotation around loot boxes is not one that is likely to die down soon, but various companies under the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have decided to meet at least one of consumers’ demands on the matter. A new decision will have companies like Electronic Arts, Activision, Ubisoft, Microsoft, and more disclosing loot box odds in the coming years.

The decision was confirmed in a statement by the ESA on August 8, 2019. According to the ESA, this new initiative is meant to make video games more transparent in regards to loot box rewards and mechanics, following up on an update to the ESRB which disclosed visibly on video game boxes and descriptions whether in-game purchases were present in any given game.

Among those agreeing to the decision to make loot box mechanics more transparent are the big three console makers, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
Among those agreeing to the decision to make loot box mechanics more transparent are the big three console makers, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

“The major console makers – Sony Interactive Entertainment, operator of the PlayStation platform, Microsoft, operator of Xbox and Windows, and Nintendo, operator of the Nintendo Switch gaming platform – are committing to new platform policies that will require paid loot boxes in games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomized virtual items,” the ESA statement said. “These required disclosures will also apply to game updates, if the update adds new loot box features. The precise timing of this disclosure requirement is still being worked out, but the console makers are targeting 2020 for the implementation of the policy.”

So far, with inclusion of the above console makers, the companies that have agreed to these policies are as follows.

  • Sony/PlayStation
  • Microsoft/Xbox
  • Nintendo
  • Activision Blizzard
  • BANDAI NAMCO
  • Bethesda
  • Bungie
  • Electronic Arts
  • Take-Two Interactive
  • Warner Bros Interactive
  • Wizards of the Coast
The inclusion of Wizards of the Coast means policies on loot box odd disclosure would also likely affect packs in Magic: The Gathering Arena.
The inclusion of Wizards of the Coast means policies on loot box odd disclosure would also likely affect packs in Magic: The Gathering Arena.

Worth noting is that the likes of Tencent, Capcom, and more major companies have not yet agreed to this initiative. A full list of notable companies not involved was published on GamesIndustry.biz, although even though Epic Games is part of the list, games like Fortnite have taken initiatives such as showing what items will come out of paid loot llamas (Fortnite’s version of a loot box) before players open them.

With pressure coming from all sides, including efforts by US politicians to pass legislation on loot boxes and microtransactions and the mechanic being restricted or even banned outright in some parts of the world such as Belgium, this effort by the ESA and gaming companies to finally meet the controversy head on and assuage the concerns of gamers worldwide will likely continue to evolve as the concern around predatory practices in microtransactions is debated.

H/T PrimaGames



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