ESRB adds a new specific label on games offering loot boxes

The ESRB wants to be more specific when it comes to rating games that come with loot boxes. 

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organization responsible for rating the content of video games before they are released, had recently announced the addition of a new label that will help consumers, especially parents, know if a video game comes with in-game purchases of randomized items. 

“In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)”

Back in 2028, the ESRB added the label “In-Game Purchases” in order to inform the consumers when a particular video game allows the purchase of in-game items without having to leave the game. Two years after, the organization is adding upon the existing label in order to be more specific with the kinds of items consumers can purchase in a game. 

“This new Interactive Element, In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items), will be assigned to any game that contains in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premium with real world currency (or with virtual coins or other forms of in-game currency that can be purchased with real world currency) for which the player doesn’t know prior to purchase the specific digital goods or premiums they will be receiving,” a statement reads on the ESRB website

This label will be applied to every game that contains purchases of randomized elements especially loot boxes, gacha games, item or card packs, prize wheels, and treasure chests, among others, along with non-randomized purchase elements. 

What would happen to the original “In-Game Purchases” label?

The “In-Game Purchases” label won’t be taken down by ESRB but instead, it will be used to specify games that contain all other forms that are not randomized such as downloadable content, expansions, additional levels, and cosmetic items. 

Random items as opposed to loot boxes

The ESRB explains that the reason why they didn’t use the term “loot boxes” in the labels is because it does not include all manner of randomized purchases within a game and they want to make sure that such elements are all covered under a single term, hence “randomized elements.”

Furthermore, the organization explains that most parents don’t actually know what a loot box is, and they do not want to confuse the consumers unfamiliar with the said terminology. 

Requested specificity

According to the ESRB, parents don’t actually care much if a purchase is randomized. What they do care about is the ability of their child to purchase in-game content using real money.

However, the organization revealed that they received significant requests from consumers to include additional information on video games and specify which ones include randomized purchases. 

In accordance with those requests, ESRB also believes that including more specific labels, especially regarding randomized in-game purchases, could help consumers make more informed decisions when it comes to purchasing a game. 


Images courtesy of ESRB and Pexels/Jessica Lewis

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