The divisive subject of loot boxes cropped up again this week following a workshop organised by the Federal trade Commission (FTC) in the States yesterday, where the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced an initiative to disclose loot box drop rates with players.
The initiative is not being backed by the gaming industry in general, although a number of significant names have pledged to be more transparent, including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, along with a handful of publishers.
“We plan to underscore to the FTC our industry’s deep connection to our community and shared desire to work with policymakers, parents, and players to provide the information they need for a positive game experience,” the ESA noted in a press statement.
“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. These required disclosures will also apply to game updates, if the update adds new loot box features,” the Association added.
While the initiative sounds good on paper, it will prove more interesting to see how it is put into practice, with the likes of EA (which is a notable loot box offender) finding creative ways to describe and sidestep its loot box mechanic in recent titles.
That said Electronic Arts is one of the publishers that has committed to this initiative, with it being joined by Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Bungie, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros and Wizards of the Coast.
The ESA is aiming to have this initiative up and running sometime next year, but a definitive timeline has not been detailed. Also missing is any sort of information on what should happen to a manufacturer or publisher should they fail to adhere to the commitment.
For us that is the most important aspect to this initiative, as simply stating your intent only goes so far.
“We commend our members for their continued efforts to listen to their customers and provide consumers with information to make more informed choices for their gameplay. As the video game industry evolves and new features appear, we welcome an open dialogue among our community,” the ESA concludes.[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]