For a while now, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (or the ESRB) have been assigning labels of “In-Game Purchases” to games with microtransactions. Now, they’ve announced the introduction of a new variant of that label that pertains specifically to games with randomized purchases – such as loot boxes or gacha mechanics – called “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)” as seen in the image below.
The original “In-Game Purchases” label will continue to be used for any games with microtransactions including DLC, expansions, cosmetic purchases, and the like. Meanwhile, the new “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)” label will be assigned only to games that “include purchases with any randomized elements, including loot boxes, gacha games, item or card packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more.”
On why this label has been introduced now, the ESRB wrote, “According to research, parents are far more concerned about their child’s ability to spend real money in games than the fact that those in-game purchases may be randomized. This data helped to inform the introduction of the In-Game Purchases Interactive Element. That being said, since adding the In-Game Purchases notice to ratings assigned to physical games many game consumers and enthusiasts (not necessarily parents) have reached out to us asking the ESRB to include additional information to identify games that include randomized purchases. The In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) Interactive Element was developed in response to those requests. By including more specificity about the randomized nature of the in-game purchases, consumers can make more informed decisions when purchasing or downloading a game, instead of finding out after the fact.”
Recently the ESRB (and European board PEGI) also confirmed that unlike Japanese board CERO, they had been working remotely for a while and that the COVID-19 pandemic wouldn’t be affecting their work or resulting in any delays. Read more on that through here.