There are parts of the ESRB we love and hate equally, which is probably why we have respect for the system because ultimately after all these years, their system seems fair. And much like putting a rating on films, the ESRB only serves as a warning system to parents and adults of what’s being sold. In light of all the talk and controversy about loot boxes and microtransactions, the ESRB sent out a press release today alerting people of a new addition coming to the rating system that will tell you if a game has in-game purchases. The release lets parents know that in-game purchases are “optional” and that there are tools they can use in the game’s settings to make sure those features cannot be used. The company also acknowledged that their system will need amendments to the changing times and that more additions are on the way, like the new interactive element they highlighted below.
Today, we are announcing the creation of a new label, “In-Game Purchases,” the first interactive element for physical video games, which discloses to parents when there are in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency. This includes a wide array of items, including bonus levels, skins, surprise items (such as item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards), music, virtual coins, and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes, and upgrades (e.g., to disable ads). Beginning this spring, the In-Game Purchases interactive element will appear on video games that can be purchased in stores and wherever those games can be downloaded.