2017 will most certainly go down in history as the year when loot boxes made their most aggressive push in video games. As of this writing there are rumblings from several governments that studios who incorporate loot boxes into their games may be on the receiving end of some political scrutiny. The situation has become tense enough to cause one of the original platforms that made in-app micro-transactions so popular to reevaluate their policies. Apple has updated their app store guidelines and now developers must disclose drop rates for items before players spend their money in hopes of receiving an elusive character or item.
The new guidelines say:
Apps offering “loot boxes” or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase.
Several games on the app store already do this. Nintendo’s Fire Emblem Heroes is one of them. Other games like Overwatch and Hearthstone added them for their Chinese market to comply with laws in that region.
It could be that Apple is doing this in an effort to police its own store before the United States government begins legislation regarding loot boxes but it is an appreciated effort nonetheless. Will it be effective? I doubt it; most people don’t bother reading minute details such as calorie counts on restaurant menus so I do not see this requirement having much of an impact on loot box spending.