The Pan European Game Information, the European organization responsible for assigning age ratings to games, has created a label or designation for ‘random items’ in games. His American counterpart recently did the same.
PEGI writes that game publishers start by providing additional information about the properties of in-game purchases and whether they include ‘random items’ such as lootboxes or card packs. If this is the case, the game will receive a new visual label for in-game purchases in addition to the usual age label and the symbol for violence, for example, which may or may not be accompanied by the textual addition of ‘paid random items’.
The visual in-game purchase symbol is a hand holding a debit card, making it clear that players in that game can purchase items with real money. In principle, this symbol is separate from the textual indication that a game contains paid random items. This often goes hand in hand, but there are also plenty of games that do not sell lootboxes, virtual cards or other items whose content is not yet clear in advance. In that case, only the visual symbol will be used. According to PEGI, less than 20 percent of the approved games from 2019 contained in-game purchases.
According to PEGI, paid random items should be considered as a form of optional in-game purchases and therefore, purchases whose content is not known to players in advance. Examples include loot boxes, card packs or prize wheels. These can be purely cosmetic items, but also items that have a functional value in the game. The ‘paid’ element in the designation of paid random items not only points to the possibility of buying such items with real money, but also refers to the situation in which items can be exchanged for virtual money which in turn can be exchanged for real money. money can be purchased.
Also the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the organization that handles age ratings for games in the US, is introducing a similar new designation. The ESRB already had an indication for in-game purchases, but now an addition is added for games that also contain random items. Unlike PEGI, the ESRB has not opted for a visual symbol and is only a textual notification.