The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating board has introduced a new rating note for games with paid loot boxes, highlighting the controversial monetisation method for people looking to buy a game.
The new designation of ‘Includes Paid Random Items’ isn’t particularly snappy, but will be put on any game that has an in-game offer to use real money for something where players don’t know specifically what they will receive. “Paid” obviously refers to any random items that can be purchased with real money, whether that’s a distinct microtransactions currency or a currency that can also be earned in-game.
It’s broad enough to cover a number of subtly different uses across loot boxes, card packs, prize wheels and similar. It means that games can’t skirt past a narrower “loot box” definition by presenting things in a different way. Additionally, loot boxes are a colloquialism that might not be understood by someone unfamiliar with the concept.
It’s a second step toward clarity for consumers, after the board introduced an icon and descriptor for in-game purchases in 2018. This will be an additional text box to explain that these purchases are randomised.
With loot boxes still prevalent in games like FIFA and the NBA 2K series, and with varying responses from governments around the world, this feels like a good step forward from PEGI to show, though it’s certainly not the end of the debate.
If you got a bit of deja vu whiplash while reading this, well it’s probably because the US ESRB announced almost the exact same thing. The two biggest rating boards have taken the same steps at the same time to give prospective buyers more information. That can only be a good thing.
Also, I did pretty much copy and paste what I wrote earlier today.