Earlier this week, the ESA and several major gaming companies came together to promise a series of changes to the microtransaction ecosystem in modern video games. The idea was that these companies would band together to self-police their games and platforms by making multiple changes to how loot boxes and other monetization are handled. One such proposed change was that loot box odds would always be disclosed, making it clear just how likely a gamer was to get a certain result. And while such a system doesn’t address deeper concerns about gambling and addiction, it’s a decent start in the right direction.
Epic is one of many companies which rakes in huge sums of money from loot boxes. And they’ve been joined by THQ Nordic, as well as many other ESA member companies. Epic was originally one of the holdouts who had not joined the initial pledge alongside Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and others.
It is worth mentioning that these Save to World loot boxes were a source of legal trouble for Epic, which no doubt played a hand in this decision. Now it just remains to be seen if titans of the game industry voluntarily bow to that same kind of legal pressure, although many have already committed to this change.
The policy will take effect in 2020, and publishers including Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Warner Bros, and Wizards of the Coast have all agreed to the initiative as well.
“Earlier this year, the Fortnite Save the World team made a change that showed players every item that they would get in a paid llama before opening it. Earlier this week, the team at Psyonix announced a similar change coming later this year to paid crates in Rocket League. Going forward, we’re committed to the same transparency for player purchases in all Epic Games titles,” Epic Games explained in the statement to GamesIndustry.biz.
And despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the leak of the personal details of more than 2,000 journalists and analysts earlier this month, the ESA isn’t letting that get in the way of needed changes within the industry. So as long as they continue to back efforts to police the poison of gambling mechanics (No EA, they’re not surprise mechanics) as well as prioritizing better privacy and data protection, it’s hard to see how this trajectory could sour.
We’ve all seen how the influence of loot boxes has served to line the pockets of companies at the expense of vulnerable and otherwise average people, so it’s time to put a stop to that.