After months of controversy surrounding loot boxes, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has finally broached the subject. However, the ESRB, which assigns age ratings to video games in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, is defending the use of loot boxes.
Loot boxes, AKA loot crates, have been a thing for a while now. They’re essentially sealed virtual boxes gamers can open to reveal the goodies inside. Sometimes loot boxes are awarded as prizes, but sometimes gamers have to purchase them. And that’s problematic.
The ESRB Weighs In
The ESRB has been silent on the issue since the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II brought the issue to a head. However, after some cajoling from Senator Maggie Hassan, the ESRB has finally addressed the issue, but probably not in the way gamers hoped.
An update on in-game purchases from your friends at ESRB: pic.twitter.com/pqmfJe0Ywz
— ESRB (@ESRBRatings) February 27, 2018
The answer to the problem, according to the ESRB, is a new label for video games. So, from now on, all games that “offer the ability to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency” will come with an “In-Game Purchases” warning.
This will apply across the board, with loot boxes essentially branded the same as bonus levels, skins, music, virtual coins, subscriptions, season passes, and upgrades. Which means pretty much every new game will be stuck with the “In-Game Purchases” label.
The ESRB sees this as a parenting problem. So, it has also launched ParentalTools.org designed to help parents “manage the amount of time or money those crafty kids spend playing games”. Which is great and all, but doesn’t fix the problem of loot boxes.
A Blight on Gaming
DLC and in-game purchases are here to stay, and most of us are OK with that. However, loot boxes, which sees you buying something sight unseen, are a blight on gaming. Especially when they buy a competitive advantage, as is the case with Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Do you play any games filled with loot boxes? Have you ever purchased a loot box? If so, did you consider it a gamble? Or just a fun form of monetization? Should the ESRB be doing more to tackle the problem of loot boxes? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Frédérique Voisin-Demery via Flickr