The ESRB’s loot box label is becoming clearer now. The ratings board has started applying an “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)” label. This warns when games include loot boxes and other luck-of-the-draw random items. Though the ESRB oversees game sales in the US, this new labeling also applies to European gamers as well. PEGI, a similar European watchdog, announced the same policy.
Interestingly, the decision not to use the words “loot boxes” was intentional. ESRB and PEGI wanted a label that could be understood by non-gamers as well as gamers. Like parents buying games for their kids. It is also broad enough to cover related items like digital card packs.
This should help buyers make “more informed decisions” rather than finding out after the fact. The previous approach only listed the presence of paid items on a basic level, which could refer to more benign purchases like DLC and season passes. You still had to do your own research if you were worried about loot boxes.
The ESRB said in 2017 that it didn’t consider loot boxes to be gambling, siding with game developers like EA. The board is now willing to at least warn gamers about the situation in games.