Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony to require loot box odds disclosure

Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony to require loot box odds disclosure

All three major console manufacturers — Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony — have agreed to require games with paid loot boxes to include the chances of winning randomized in-game items from them, the Entertainment Software Association announced Wednesday.

Michael Warnecke, the ESA’s chief counsel of tech policy, made the announcement during a workshop on loot boxes hosted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

“I’m pleased to announce this morning that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games that are developed for their platforms,” Warnecke said. “Specifically, this would apply to new games and game updates that add loot box features, and it would require the disclosure of the relative rarity or probabilities of obtaining randomized virtual items in games that are available on their platforms.”

Warnecke said that in addition to the major console manufacturers, “many of the leading video game publishers” who are members of the ESA, the trade body that represents the gaming industry, will “implement a similar approach.” Those publishers include Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast, the ESA said in a blog post.

According to the blog post, the console manufacturers are “targeting 2020” for these changes. Other publishers are hoping to add these features “no later than the end of 2020.”

The announcement comes after years of criticism from consumers about loot boxes in modern video games. The attention of the FTC seems to have inspired a new round of self-regulation within the members of the ESA. The maneuver brings to mind the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board in 1994, which was brought about in part to head off potential government regulation of video game content.

Pressure has been mounting on the video game industry since May, when Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) proposed an anti-loot box bill. That bill has since garnered bipartisan support, a rarity these days on a particularly divided Capitol Hill.

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