Empowering players and parents to manage spending in video games
In-game purchases, sometimes also known as microtransactions, are part of the video games landscape, but they are far from universal. Consumers continue to have plenty of choice without having to engage in any in-game spending. Annually, only 10-20% of video games rated by IARC and PEGI contain in-game purchases. The majority of players enjoy playing video games without ever making a purchase.
Based on clear existing guidance, the industry communicates with players, making sure that in-game offers are in line with consumer law and that players have all the information they need to feel confident and in control when they spend money.
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Information about the presence of in-game purchases
All video games rated through the rating bodies PEGI (Pan European Game Information) both for physical and digital video games and IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) for digital-only games, provide information about the presence of in-game purchases prior to purchase.
According to the annual GameTrack survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by ISFE, in 2020, 75% of surveyed parents whose children spend money in-game have an agreement of some kind with their children regarding spending.
Enhanced transparency when in-game purchases include virtual random items
PEGI adds additional feature descriptors
In 2020, PEGI added additional feature descriptors to provide greater transparency for in-game purchases that include random items (such as loot boxes, card packs or prize wheels). This information is displayed as a notice on physical packaging and on digital storefronts. It provides a clearer and more specific label for parents and players to indicate if loot boxes and other randomised mechanics (e.g. loot boxes card packs, prize wheels) are present prior to purchase.
Transparent information about the probability of receiving a virtual random item
The industry also provides transparent information about the probability of receiving a virtual random item. In August 2019, the industry announced a voluntary commitment to provide improved transparency for consumers regarding purchasable random content, such as “loot boxes”.
That commitment consists of two complementary parts: one by major console-makers – Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo, and Sony PlayStation – and a corresponding commitment by video game publishers*. The commitment requires the disclosure of the relative rarity, or probability of obtaining randomised virtual items in paid loot boxes. The disclosure commitment applies to all new games and any updates made to existing games that subsequently add this type of in-game purchase. It should be made in a manner that is understandable and easily accessed. Learn more.