The ESRB proposes new microtransaction label, while Hawaii’s Chris Lee questions the ESA on lockboxes
The Entertainment Software Rating Board claims it’s taking steps to solve the lockbox crisis, in part in response to bills before multiple state governments as well as discussions in (and ultimata from) the US senate’s commerce, science, and transporation committee. ESRB President Patricia Vance told journalists today that the non-government body will mandate special labels applied to video game boxes notifying consumers that in-app purchases and cash-shop transactions are part of those games. It won’t be explicit to lootboxes, she argues, because “a large majority of parents don’t know what a lootbox is.” It’s set up a new website to explain parental controls to parents as well, though we don’t recall anyone asking for that.
But maybe don’t get too excited. Polygon argues that the proposal “feels like a plot to get legislators off the back of the industry, not a serious attempt to fix anything,” since pretty much every video game would have this relatively generic label and there’s an overt attempt to deflect all real responsibility to parents. Moreover, the ESRB still isn’t requiring publishers to disclose odds for their gambleboxes.
Meanwhile, Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee, who’s been one of the legislators at the political forefront of the push for reasonable regulation of games with lockbox gambling, released a video of an ESA lobbyist sitting for a lockbox-related government-run consumer protection hearing on the record – the first ever time for that, Lee believes.
During the bizarre hearing, at which the consumer rep seemed more prepared than the ESA rep to answer questions about the ESA, the ESA fell back on the ERSB, which it claims has been “proactive” on consumer protections, but admitted that the ESA and ESRB do not believe lockboxes constitute gambling. Multiple questions posed by Lee also go unanswered entirely as it appeared the ESA rep (white shirt and tie) doesn’t know the answers or gives incomplete or misleading answers.
Bonus, Lee’s video inexplicably begins with 30 seconds of a topless Lee surfing because obviously that’s just what everyone does in Hawaii all the time. And that’s not even the best part. The best part is when the lobbyist in the Hawaiian shirt cracks up over Lee’s “sense of pride and accomplishment” remark, which may or may not have been intentional.