Another minor victory in the attempts to regulate loot boxes has been made. Apple now requires all App Store games to disclose the odds loot box item drops.
This is one minor step forwards in the ongoing storm of events surrounding microtransactions in games like Star Wars Battlefront II and NBA 2K18, but it’s an important step. Mobile games pioneered the processes of asking players to pay to speed up in-game events and pay again for the mere chance of unlocking certain special items. While those practices haven’t been cut down or regulated, the new guidelines are an important step towards transparency.
Currently, certain countries like China require game creators to publicly disclose the odds of obtaining anything from loot boxes, and the new guidelines seem to be very similar.
“Apps offering ‘loot boxes’ or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase,” the new rule reads.
It’s worth noting that the games this new rule will affect include card games such as Hearthstone, perhaps settling the debate over whether or not trading card games booster packs count as loot boxes.
More transparency in this regard can only lead to positive results for the consumer. Once the true drop rates of items are revealed, fans may decide not to waste their money on something exceedingly rare—or developers may themselves up the drop rates in order to make their loot boxes seem more appealing. Either way, it’s a net positive for the players.
Apple’s new guidelines may be an attempt to self-regulate the App Store before the issue of gambling in games becomes regulated by law. Currently, Hawaiian lawmakers are working on a bill that would help cut down on some of the most predatory microtransactions in the market.
The new guidelines can be read on Apple’s site here.