Apple Says ITunes Apps Must Now Disclose Odds For Loot Boxes

The Simpsons Tapped Out is one of many iOS games to include loot boxes.

Apple announced a sweeping revision to the guidelines for its App Store yesterday, which now includes a provision that loot boxes must be transparent about their odds.

"Apps offering 'loot boxes' or other mechanisms that provide randomised virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase," reads the new rule.

Loot boxes, which have always been common in the world of iOS gaming, are virtual grab bags that can give players a host of items ranging from common to rare. Most of the time, you can buy these loot boxes not just for in-game currency but for real money, which has led some players to classify them as gambling -- a label that the Entertainment Software Rating Board doesn't acknowledge.

This news comes after a year full of controversy over loot boxes, which many players see as manipulative, predatory methods to get them to spend more money on games. Although many mobile games have always had them, loot boxes received renewed attention this year thanks to their inclusion in console games like Shadow of War and Star Wars Battlefront II.

Rage over the latter game dominated its launch to the point where its publisher, EA, announced the day before release that it was temporarily removing all of Battlefront II's microtransactions.

As rage over these practices gets louder and louder, Apple's move is the first of what may be many steps that game publishers and distributors voluntarily take in an attempt to avoid regulation from outside bodies.


    Now these are revisions I can get behind. Very good.

    Apple made a good App Store decision...STOP THE PRESSES!

    Google, Steam, Microsoft, Playstation we are looking at you now... Do The Same!

    Also add parental controls, and a store filter so I can search for games without them.

    The ESRB is a joke, a consumer protection body shouldve investigated at the very least.

    They already had a pro- publisher/corporate response ready before hand, stinks of lobbying.

      ESRB has never been a consumer protection body, they existed for the sole purpose of creating a classification system to protect the games industry from regulation after the Mortal Knowledge nbat and Night Trap messes.

      That said Battlefront II has been such a huge dumpster fire that the ESRB is probably discussing a plan just in case they need to prove their relevance before Hawaiigets rolling on their laws.

    Keywords: "IAP" and "for purchase".

    Games will just all switch to virtual currency for purchasing the loot boxes, with the IAP then purchasing a fixed amount of the virtual currency (many games already do this, including some of the most blatant cash grab loot box games).

    So unless Apple interprets their guidelines to be far more broad than they appear, ie consider IAP->Virtual Currency (Fixed)->Loot Box (random) to be a "loot box purchased by IAP", then most games will not even have to change.

    OK, I guess? People know they're more likely to be struck by lightning than win the lottery, but they still play it. Doesn't seem like this will actually curb the problem of casino tricks manipulating psychology.

    "Quickly! Implement a not-particularly-inconvenient policy and pretend we're being consumer-friendly before regulators decide to force us into being ACTUALLY consumer-friendly!"

    This just brings the rest of the store in line with what has to be done for China for the last year, anyway. Have any studies yet been done into what impact China's odds-disclosure laws had on not-quite-technically-gambling app income?

      True but also flagging it as a consumer and fundamebtal game problem... the option to avoid these ganes may influence developers and consumers a like.

    Im curious what triggered Apple to do this?

    "Includes In App Purchases" and parental controls only came in after a few high profile news reports and a class action... so most of the recent drama has been in PC and Console gaming, so is there sonething stirring in Washington or the EU?

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