ESRB Loot Box Ratings Will Warn Parents About Microtransactions

Published: April 13, 2020 11:39 AM /


ESRB loot box ratings cover

ESRB loot box ratings will soon start appearing on games reviewed by America's independent game ratings organization. This new ESRB rating will now make it easier for purchasers (and parents) to know when a game has microtransactions built-in.

If you're unfamiliar with the Entertainment Software Rating Board, it's the organization that assigns content ratings to video games in the United States. The organization was first formed in 1994 after Congressional hearings were investigating violence in video games like Mortal Kombat.

Since its inception, the ESRB has focused on rating the content of video games for age appropriateness along with additional qualifiers that detail specific content like alcohol use, coarse language, or large amounts of violence. However, the ratings haven't specifically addressed microtransactions — until now.

ESRB loot box ratings slice

What Will the ESRB Loot Box Ratings Cover?

As noted in a blog post from the rating organization, the ESRB loot box ratings will actually cover more than just loot boxes. Games that have this new rating will carry the following additional content message:

In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)

The ESRB states that this rating will apply to games with the following content:

  • loot boxes
  • gacha games
  • item or card packs
  • prize wheels
  • treasure chests
  • non-randomized paid elements
  • and more

The "In-Game Purchases" qualifier will continue to apply to games with non-randomized microtransactions. This means that customers will be able to easily tell the difference between games with a cash shop and games that have loot boxes or some other kind of random loot mechanic that involves money.

While the ESRB has covered microtransactions in games for some time, the additional note about randomized elements is only being added now after repeated requests from "game consumers and enthusiasts" asking for the organization to expand the rating to cover this situation.

This new rating will start popping up on games that are rated in the future. You can read more about it at the ESRB loot box ratings blog post.

What do you think of this new ESRB rating? Do you think they should do more to regulate loot boxes? Let us know in the comments below!

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A photograph of TechRaptor Senior Writer Robert N. Adams.
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One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N