The controversy over loot boxes may have quietened down as of late, but that doesn’t mean the game industry, politicians, and gambling regulators have tuned their eyes away from the issue. The latest company to take a stance against the practice is Apple, which has just brought in new rules for apps that contain microtransactions.
In its latest iOS developer guidelines, Apple writes that developers must clearly state what the chances are of someone receiving an item when using loot box mechanics in a game.
"Apps offering 'loot boxes' or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase," states the guidelines.
Most people who use these apps will probably know the chances of winning something rare are small, but seeing the actual percentage figure written down might be enough to stop them spending their money.
Over in China, rules that developers must disclose drop rate odds are already in place for the majority of games. Now that Apple has adopted the policy for the apps in its store, other platforms, such as Google and even Steam, could eventually follow in Cupertino’s footsteps.
Following the news that Belgium and Hawaii were looking to ban loot boxes, Hawaii House of Representatives Democrat Chris Lee released a video spelling out his plans to tackle the problem. He wants titles that include “gambling mechanisms,” which covers in-game purchases where you’re not guaranteed to get a specific item, banned from being sold to under 21s
The Belgian Gaming Commission has concluded that loot boxes constitute a form of gambling, a statement echoed by an Australian gambling regulator.