Following the brouhaha over loot boxes in video games, the Entertainment Software Rating Board has announced that they will begin assigning an “In-Game Purchases” label to video games in the near future. The label will be applied to games that feature content–including but not limited to bonus levels, skins, item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards, music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes, and upgrades such as disabling ads–that players can purchase for real world currency. The ESRB press release does not state exactly when the new labels will be applied, nor what game(s) will be the first to carry the label.
“The video game industry is evolving and innovating continually, as is the ESRB rating system. ESRB’s goal is to ensure that parents have the most up-to-date and comprehensive tools at their disposal to help them decide which games are appropriate for their children,” said ESRB president Patricia Vance. “With the new In-Game Purchases interactive element coming to physical games, parents will know when a game contains offers for players to purchase additional content. Moreover, we will be expanding our efforts to educate parents about the controls currently at their disposal to manage in-game spending before their kids press ‘Start’.”
In addition to the new “In-Game Purchases” label, the ESRB has established ParentTools.org to serve as a portal for parents to learn about all of the ESRB’s labels, as well as offering tips for managing a child’s gaming habits. The ESRB is kicking off a nationwide campaign to educate parents about the new website and the new label. The following PSA is available right now on ParentTools.org, with additional content to follow.