The ESRB is taking steps toward helping us all know when video games have extra purchases in the mix, as ESRB will add a label for it
Get ready to start seeing a new label from the ESRB on your video games in the coming days as it looks like the organization will be starting to label games with “In-Game Purchases” now. All of which is a response to the most recent issues gamers have had out there with studios and publishers adding in the options to pay real-world money for in-game items or bonuses. No titles were named directly, but I know many people, the ESRB included, are looking in the direction of Star Wars Battlefront II there. That is at least one of the big names in recent days, but of course not the only culprit that would cause such a reaction from the organization and gamers in general.
There is no date on when we can expect to see these new labels from the ESRB to show up, but it does look like it will cover a lot more than just Loot Boxes. This new move will cover those but also when games have the option to purchase 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). So… pretty much every game out there now as it looks like it will cover all DLC that video games have now. That list does cover pretty much everything that can be added on for the digital side of things, so how is this going to be an effective label?
I am glad to see that there are steps coming for video games that do this, but it seems like the ESRB might be missing the mark on it as it will be just another bit of block text and not truly a warning. Unless there is some larger label going on the game boxes, I am not sure this will do much to deter or spread the information as it will be on 95% of video game boxes out there. I mean, can you name a video game that does not have at least one of those extras listed? Maybe the ESRB should focus more on the “Surprise Items” and not everything else that is used as part of the marketing or enticement to buy a game from the start. You do go into games like Rock Band expecting to buy more music and every Ubisoft title is mostly upfront on what will be coming with the OPTIONAL Season Pass that can be purchased. This is more of short-term fix than anything.
If you wish to read the full release and statement from the ESRB, I have included it just below. They are also adding a few extra tools for parents to better understand the video games that their kids are playing, but more or less it is not much more than information that is becoming more standard as the original gamers out there are becoming the parents now and have been playing for years already. Maybe that is just how I see it…
ESRB To Begin Assigning “In-Game Purchases” Label To Physical Video Games
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) today announced that it will begin assigning a new “In-Game Purchases” label to physical (e.g., boxed) games. The In-Game Purchases label is one of several interactive elements that ESRB currently assigns to notify consumers about the interactive or online features of a digital or mobile game. Consumers can expect to start seeing this new notice on all games that can be purchased in stores and wherever those games can be downloaded in the near future.
“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 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 kids press ‘Start’.”
The new In-Game Purchases label will be applied to games with in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency, including but not limited to 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). “We are delighted to support ESRB’s continuing dedication to safeguarding children from inappropriate experiences both online and offline by providing parents with essential information about video games,” said Stephen Balkam, Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. “ESRB’s decision to add the InGame Purchases label to game boxes further empowers parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions for their families.”
Today ESRB also launched ParentalTools.org, an easy-to-use one-stop resource for parents including:
- A detailed introduction to the new “In-Game Purchases” and other interactive elements;
- Links to step-by-step guides for setting parental controls to help manage different aspects of video game use in the home, including money and time spent playing;
- A link to the ESRB ratings guide that provides an explanation of ESRB’s three-part rating system.
ESRB — The Control Is In Your Hands
What do you think about the new label coming from the ESRB? Do you think it will be solution to the Loot Box issue or will it just be another bit of text we will all ignore anyways? Will this limit developers and publishers from trying to add DLC to any title or will it just make them all a bit more upfront? Let us know what you are thinking down in the comments and then discuss. For all things video games, stick around here on the site. We will keep all of the information coming for you.