“Includes Random Items” – that’s the new descriptor the ESRB is adding to its “In-Game Purchases” warning text on videogames. It’s meant to call out when a game features randomized loot boxes, card packs, or prize wheels. The group has been on the forefront of doing everything it can to prop up loot boxes as a legally and morally fun way to enhance games. It’s not gambling, the ESRB has pointedly reminded everyone. It’s opt-in random rewards.
“According to research, parents are far more concerned about their child’s ability to spend real money in games than the fact that those in-game purchases may be randomized.”
The ESRB introduced the “In-Game Purchases” text in 2018, so why did it take the ESRB so long to add a descriptor for loot boxes? Surely, the fact that some high-profile games have started stepping away from loot boxes had nothing to do with it.