Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo agree deal requiring all devs to disclose odds of loot boxes


In a massive step forward for the regular of randomised loot boxes in games, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) has inked a deal with the trio of console manufacturers requiring all games on their platforms disclosed the odds of loot boxes. 

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have all entered in the agreement, meaning all games released, both first and third-party, will have to disclose how likely it is you get the item you’re after.

By default, this means a large chunk of PC games will also have their loot box odds revealed. That is unless third parties are sneaky and have different odds on PC compared to console. However, a number of big publishers have also stepped in and agree to disclose the loot crate odds for their games as well, including the likes of Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft.

“The major console makers – Sony Interactive Entertainment, operator of the PlayStation platform, Microsoft, operator of Xbox and Windows, and Nintendo, operator of the Nintendo Switch gaming platform – are committing to new platform policies that will require paid loot boxes in games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomized virtual items,” wrote the ESA in a statement.

Any game coming to any of these three platform holders which contains loot boxes will be required to disclose the odds of the goods inside. Secondly, if any game updates and patches arrive which may affect the odds, this also needs to be disclosed.

Transitioning to this new format won’t be instant though,with the console makers agreeing on a vague 2020 date for implementation of the new policy. 

The move comes as the heat grows on loot boxes worldwide. Some countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium have already taken steps to outlaw what are perceived as gambling-like mechanics, forcing the ESA into action if it isn’t to suffer strict governmental regulation. The ideal scenario for the games industry is that it can regulate itself rather than be controlled by external political forces so this certainly comes as welcome news. Trust me, you don’t want government lawmakers interfering with what can or can’t be included in your games, it’s a whole lot better if it can be handled internally.

It’s winding up being an interesting turning point for loot boxes this week, with Rocket League developer Psyonix confirming yesterday that randomised loot boxes are going to be removed entirely from Rocket League. 

What are your thoughts then, a positive step in the right direction? Or merely a distraction from the genuine issues?