In a welcomed move by the ESRB, which let’s be fair should have occurred earlier, announced plans to label games with microtransactions as such. This will provide clarification to anyone purchasing a game to know that in-game purchases are present. That’s all good but it, unfortunately, dilutes the conversation about loot crates a little.
In fact, the ESRB came out and defended loot boxes.
We tried to find research on that, but we were unable to find any evidence that children were specifically impacted by loot boxes, or that they were leading them toward some tendency to gambling. We truly don’t know of any evidence supporting those claims. We continue to believe loot boxes are a fun way to acquire virtual items; most of them are cosmetic. They’re always optional.
Which, if no evidence is present, is a fair call but I’m a little confused about the rating. A publisher could always add microtransactions into a game post-release, which would allow for in-game purchases to be added to a title that was rated by the ESRB to not contain any in the first place. Whether this would require the said rating to be altered makes no difference to those who have already purchased a copy.
I would like to see the ESRB take a stance on loot crates and classify them as gambling, which it is. You’re gambling in-game or real currencies to gain items that are hidden away in a randomized loot machine. That’s gambling in of itself. You’re unaware of the outcome but are happy with parting with cash upfront in hope to receive something decent.
Also, wouldn’t this rating also bundle games with excellent DLC practices with those that were lambasted by the community not so long ago?