Transparent information about the probability of receiving a virtual random item (so-called “drop rates”)
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.
Since 1 October 2020, major console-makers – Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo, and Sony PlayStation – require publishers to disclose probabilities of paid random items (loot boxes, card packs) in new games and game updates.
Some publishers began providing probability disclosures before 2019, and others are following suit after the voluntary commitment was made last August. In the first five months of 2020, publishers made measurable progress in implementing this voluntary disclosure commitment, consistent with the stated goal to do so before the end of 2020.
As new games are released throughout the rest of the year, additional titles that include paid loot boxes will implement the disclosure.
*Activision Blizzard, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Epic, Konami, Microsoft, Nexon, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Square Enix, Supercell, Take-Two Interactive, THQ Nordic, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast.
PROBABILITY DISCLOSURE POLICY ON XBOX
Microsoft released nearly identical probability disclosure policies for the Xbox One and Windows PC last October, and those policies went into effect January 1, 2020. Details on the Windows policy are available here, at Section 10.8.4. The same requirements have been added to the Xbox Publisher Guide, which details requirements for games published for Xbox One.
PROBABILITY DISCLOSURE POLICY ON NINTENDO SWITCH
Nintendo rolled out its probability disclosure guideline in mid-April 2020, which went into effect May 13, 2020. It is part of overall technical Nintendo guidelines that must be complied with in order to publish games for Nintendo Switch. Those guidelines are also incorporated into contracts with game publishers.
PROBABILITY DISCLOSURE POLICY ON PLAYSTATION 4
Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) posted its policy for probability disclosures at the beginning of June. This policy applies to all games published for the PlayStation platform from October 1, 2020 at the latest. All publishers must comply with this policy, like many other policies and technical requirements, for publication on the PlayStation platform. It is incorporated into SIE’s contracts with game publishers.