The ESRB hopes to spare parents the pain of their kids overspending with a new warning label for ‘In-Game Purchases’.
If you thought the ESRB, the North American video games rating board, had been quiet on the issue of microtransactions, you weren’t alone. As it turns out, even the ESRB themselves had noticed they were conspicuous in their lack of a response.
Today, on Twitter, they broke that silence.
You may have noticed that we’ve been a little quiet on the topic of in-game purchases and loot boxes, but we’ve been listening. In fact, we’ve absorbed every tweet, email, Facebook post and singing telegram sent our way, and we’ve been working to develop a sensible approach to let gamers and parents know when a game offers the option to purchase additional content. This label, or as we call it interactive element, will appear on boxes (and wherever those games can be downloaded) for all games that offer the ability to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency.
The statement continues, to clarify what will be covered by the new label.
This includes features like 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, upgrades (e.g. to disable ads) and move.
Finally, the ESRB announced a new website to help parents understand how their kids might be frittering away their hard-earned.
We’ve also launching a new website ParentalTools.org to help raise awareness of the helpful tools that parents can use to manage the amount of time or money those crafty kids spend playing games. This is the first step of many! We’ll continue to discuss how to further enhance our rating system with publishers, developers, gamers and especially parents, and we’ll continue to make adjustments as the need arises.
The ESRB is going to great lengths to assuage parents concerns that their “crafty kids” will be spending their money. Any money. At all. Which is of course important, when belts are tight and finances are cut to the quick.
However the distinction between more predatory monetisation schemes – randomly generated loot boxes, Gacha games, FIFA Ultimate Team, and all those other whale-hunting tactics – and what many players would consider reasonable practices, like season passes or DLC for console games, or to remove adverts from trial versions of mobile games, has not been made.
The ESRB’s latest statement is effectively making its position clear: that highlighting where any money could be spent – to parents, by their “crafty kids” – rather than cleaning up unsavoury business practices, is their ultimate priority.
More from Thumbsticks
- Co-op prison escape game A Way Out has gone gold
- PUBG Invitational has a $25,000 prize pot
- Payday 2 waiting on permission from Nintendo to use voice chat
Enjoyed this article?
We hope you found it useful, or informative, or thought provoking, or maybe even a little entertaining. Perhaps it was a guide that helped you through a tight spot, or we even saved you some money? Lovely stuff! If you'd like to say "thanks" you could always buy the team a cup of coffee.
Recommended for you
Latest from Thumbsticks
Mortal Kombat franchise sells 73 million units on console
Warner Bros. Games reveals some impressive sales numbers for Mortal Kombat 11 and the franchise as a whole.
New PlayStation Store releases for July 26-30, 2021
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles and Neo: The World Ends with You headline a busy week of new PlayStation Store releases for...
Nintendo Switch releases for July 26-30, 2021
NEO: The World Ends With You and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles headline this week's lineup of new Nintendo Switch eShop...
New Xbox releases for July 26-30, 2021
Microsoft Flight Simulator and The Ascent headline the list of new games coming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
Battlefield 2042 beta set for September
Players can try out Battlefield 2042 this September ahead of an October launch.
Mario Golf: Super Rush review
Mayhem and mushrooms make Mario Golf: Super Rush another multiplayer delight for the Nintendo Switch.
Dead Space, Battlefield Portal and everything else at EA Play Live
Have you got those post-E3 blues? EA Play Live has you covered with a short presentation that packed a punch.
More great games join Xbox Game Pass from today
Microsoft Flight Simulator and Cris Tales are among the games joining Xbox Game Pass this month.