This morning, February 27, 2018, the ESRB has announced that they are going to begin regulating in-game-purchases for video games. For those who don’t know, ESRB stands for Entertainment Software Rating Board. They are responsible for determining the ratings that you see on the back of every video game.
In the “near future” you can expect to see labels on every game that contains an in-game purchase. ESRB is defining in-game purchases as anything in a game that can be purchased with real money. So while this will apply to lootboxes, item packs, and things of that nature, it will also apply to skins, season passes, music, virtual coins, and bonus levels. This is not a specific attack on lootboxes or real money purchases that give you an in game advantage, but microtransactions as a whole. If you are still confused about what microtransactions are, take a look at The State of Microtransactions.
This move by the ESRB is less of a statement against condemning in-game purchases, and more about informing the parents. Partica Vance, President of ESRB said,
With the new In-Game Purchases interactive element coming to physical games, parents will know when a game contains offers for players to purchase additional content. Moreover, we will be expanding our efforts to educate parents about the controls currently at their disposal to manage in-game spending before their kids press ‘Start’.
The ESRB has also started a website, parentaltools.org, to help inform parents about what exactly in-game purchase are, how the ESRB rating system works, and more.
You can read the full ESRB press release on their website.
I like this move by the ESRB to warn parents and kids about in-game purchases by adding a warning label. This also forces game companies to be up-front from the start if their game is going to include any type of out of game monetary purchase. However, I wish that they had of came down harder on purchases that give in game advantage and purchases that can lead to gambling problems. Nonetheless, I would call this a win for the gaming community!
What do you think about the ESRB forcing game developers to add labels warning customers of in-game purchases? Let us know in the comments!