The ESRB or the Entertainment Software Rating Board will begin including a label specifically for games that have some form of micro-transaction or loot box system in place.
The new addition to the ESRB rating systems is a direct response to the outcry and controversy caused by the rampancy of titles that include some form of loot box or in-game micro-transaction. The ESRB released a statement earlier this morning regarding the change, they said the new label will be “applied to games with in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real-world currency.” They continued, adding, “including but not limited to bonus levels, skins, surprise items (such as item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards), music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes and upgrades (e.g., to disable ads).”
The new label will be separate from the typical ESRB age label (E-for-Everyone, T-for-Teen, etc.) and will only appear on games that have some form of micro-transaction or gambling system.
The phenomena of in-game microtransactions are nothing new. However, they tended to be associated more with mobile-gaming, rather than PC and Console releases.
The ESRB also launched a new campaign targeted at parents, to highlight the various parental controls available in households that have a video game console. The new campaign is associated with the website, Parenteltools.org and is meant to help parents who are unfamiliar with video game rating systems.
“We feel this is an effective response, if you care about parents, if you care about their concerns, this is an effective response,” said Patricia Vance, the president of the ESRB, Tuesday morning. He added, “this is just a first step, we are going to continue to look at this issue and determine if there are additional measures or guidelines to put in place, this obviously is an issue of concern to the gamer community.”
When asked by Polygon, if the inclusion of a new label that highlights titles that include micro-transaction have caused any backlash from publishers, the ERSB simply responded with, “No.”
The new label will not out-right mention loot boxes, as the term is too general. While surveying parents before announcing the new addition, Vance said, ” a large majority of parents don’t know what a loot box is, and those that claim they do don’t really understand what a look box is,” this is why the ERSB launched an additional campaign through Parenteltools.org.
Hopefully, the new labelling system aides parents in making more well-informed choices, when it comes to buying games for their children.
Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Nathan Shubert’s coverage on how Sweden Could Identify Loot Boxes as Gambling.
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