Loot Box Warnings To Be Included in Video Games
It has been announced that UK video game ratings will include a warning if a game features ‘Loot Boxes’ or any paid for items that are randomly generated within a game.
This has been put in place due to parents unknowingly spending money due to their children’s gaming sessions, where young people have bought numerous Loot Boxes as a way of progressing in a game without realising that real money was spent. The ‘Loot Box’ concept has also been deemed to represent a form of online gambling, as young people spend money on the chance of winning a big prize.
What are Loot Boxes?
Loot boxes offer a random gift that may aid the player or give an in-game character a perk or cosmetic accessory, this could be better weapons or a different outfit or ‘skin’.
Some of the most popular games such as Fifa and Star Wars Battlefront 2 have Loot Boxes featured throughout. They are purchased directly by real money or via ‘in-game currency’ which is also paid for using a credit or debit card.
‘Loot Boxes’ are appealing to young people because they offer surprise and give the player possibility that their gaming experience can be massively enhanced by big wins and valuable content. The flip side is that due to the system operating randomly, the content is not always what players want which can lead to disappointment when winning a low value item.
What is Now Being Included?
Regulator Pegi has been assigned to show a purchases label on video game boxes and digital platforms, similar to the age rating that is already on these games.
Publishers will now be required to provide additional information as to whether the game in question includes Loot Boxes or other randomisation of paid for prizes and how these features will function.
This will allow parents and carers to be more aware of the games their children spend time on and whether they feel these features are appropriate for their gaming experience.
Things to Remember
If you are worried about your children using Loot Boxes responsibly, just remember:
The first step is to have a conversation. Approach it with openness and good faith – not finger-pointing and distrust. Ask you children about the games they play, if these have Loot Boxes and discuss whether they have bought these themselves.
Make sure your child clearly understands that:
- Loot Boxes cost real money, even if they are purchased with an in-game currency.
- They may be designed to encourage repeat-purchases.
- You expect them to respect any rules you set about money and responsibility. You can create a family agreement to help you come to these decisions.
Both PlayStation and Microsoft allow you to set spending limits on accounts, so you can be sure that your child cannot spend large amounts in a single purchase or over a certain period of time.
Support and Contact Details
If you wish to contact some of the major game publishers about queries you may have about their games, links can be found below:
Blizzard – makers of Overwatch
Activision – makers of Call of Duty
EA – makers of Star Wars Battlefront II, Apex Legends, and FIFA
Nintendo – makers of Animal Crossing