In recent years the gaming Industry has seen its fair share of games like Overwatch, Destiny 2, Assassin’s Creed Origins and the infamous Star Wars Battlefront II release with in-game micro-transactions. Keeping this trend in mind, The Entertainment Software Rating Board aka ESRB has released a notice.
ESRB will assign a new “In-Game Purchases” label to physical games. The In-Game Purchases label is one of several interactive elements that ESRB will use to inform consumers about the online features of a digital or mobile game. Consumers will able to see the label soon on games that can be purchased via both digital and physical stores.
“The video game industry is evolving and innovating continually, as is the ESRB rating system. ESRB’s goal is to ensure that parents have the most up-to-date and comprehensive tools at their disposal to help them decide which games are appropriate for their children,” said ESRB’s president Patricia Vance.
“With the new In-Game Purchases interactive element coming to physical games, parents will know when a game contains offers for players to purchase additional content. Moreover, we will be expanding our efforts to educate parents about the controls currently at their disposal to manage in-game spending before their kid’s press ‘Start’.” Said ESRB in their recent press release.
What this basically means is that parents will now have an option to know which games offer in-game purchases. This will result in a better-informed decision while buying a game. The label will appear on games that offer In-Game purchases which can be in forms of bonus levels, skins, surprise items (such as item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards), music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes and upgrades (e.g., to disable ads).
ESRB also launched a new website called ParentalTools.org. The website shall help parents know more about the new “In-Game Purchases” and other interactive elements. A step-by-step guide for setting parental controls to help manage different usage aspects of a video game, a link to ESRB’s rating system that provides a guide and description of its three-part rating system are all present on the website. The organization is planning to host a nationwide campaign to help educate parents on how they can use these tools.
All such improvements arrive after the recent controversies surrounding games like Electronic Art’s Star Wars Battlefront II. The game saw a lot of backlash from gamers as loot boxes bought or earned while playing the game affected a player’s advancement within the multiplayer part of the game. EA suspended real-currency transactions in Battlefront II just a day before the game’s launch in November. Star Wars Battlefront II received average reviews and a lot of negative reception due to the whole loot box controversy.
Apart from that Konami, the company behind Metal Gear series just came up with Metal Gear Survive. The game has seen its fair share of backlash as it offers in-game purchases in a form of save slots. This means that players would have to pay an amount in real-world currency in order to create and play with a new character on a new save slot. Metal Gear Survive received average reviews and as mentioned above saw a lot of critical reception.
Since most game copies that arrive in India are from EU(European) region, it will interesting to see if PEGI takes a similar action against the whole In-Game purchases scenario. For those of you who want to read the notice, please refer the image down below.