The ESRB has introduced a new label on its rating system which is meant to account for in-game purchases.
The new label is “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).” It will be assigned to any game which includes such elements, including loot boxes, card packs, item packs, prize wheels, gacha games, chests, and more.
The ESRB notes that the original label, “In-Game Purchases,” will still be assigned to games which include non-randomized purchases (like cosmetics, DLC, etc.) This means “loot boxes” won’t fall under this old label.
The ESRB provides the following reasoning for this new label,
“According to research, parents are far more concerned about their child’s ability to spend real money in games than the fact that those in-game purchases may be randomized. This data helped to inform the introduction of the In-Game Purchases Interactive Element.”
“That being said, since adding the In-Game Purchases notice to ratings assigned to physical games many game consumers and enthusiasts (not necessarily parents) have reached out to us asking the ESRB to include additional information to identify games that include randomized purchases.”
As to why not just use the term “loot boxes” in this new label,
“’Loot box’ is a term that doesn’t encompass all types of randomized in-game purchase mechanics. We want to ensure that the new label covers all transactions with randomized elements. In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) accounts for loot boxes and all similar mechanics that offer random items in exchange for real-world currency or in-game currency that can be purchased with real money.”