You have to imagine that a lot of video game marketers have developed facial twitches today upon the news that they will no longer be able to slip in lockboxes into games without the public knowing. This is because the Entertainment Software Rating Board made a change to its rating system that will slap a game with an “includes random items” warning on the ratings label if lockbox gambling lurks within.
“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 premiums 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 (e.g., loot boxes, item packs, mystery awards),” the board posted on its blog.
The ESRB said that this label is going be applied to any and all games that feature “packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more.” The board said that this change came about in response to many consumer requests to make the presence of lockboxes and their ilk clear. It’s a pretty broad definition that expands beyond lockboxes to “all similar mechanics” that involve spending real money on a randomized item.
Of course, if you aren’t already aware that “random items” refers to gambleboxes and not to legitimate random drops, it might not be much warning.