PEGI - the European content rating system - announced today that it will start labeling physical products that contain in-game purchases. The equivalent for digital products is already in action, but this is the first time the icon will be matched with physical goods. PEGI initially announced this initiative in August 2018.
The ESRB already added this descriptor to physical products in 2018, after expanding it out from just digital games.
Simon Little, managing director of PEGI said they wanted to make parents more aware of optional in-game purchases before buying a product. He said making parents aware of these purchases was an "important first step" in helping them make informed purchasing decisions.
"While we know that parents use different methods to control spending, parental control tools are a very helpful next step in making sure that the overall online experience of the child is safe, including the possibility to control spending," he added "Entering into a dialogue with the child about the games they enjoy is certainly a must for all parents. It will provide them with the necessary context to create a gaming environment both the children and the parents are comfortable with."
The new in-game purchases descriptor - which will begin to appear on product towards the end of the year - will be applied to all titles that feature in-game spending.
"For a parent who may not be fully familiar with the video games landscape, seeing this simple descriptor on the packaging of a game they consider buying should trigger the reflex of keeping an eye on the gameplay, once the game has been purchased and given to the child," said Little. "It's basic information, but that's what parents sometimes feel they are lacking."The descriptor covers all types of in-game purchases, meaning DLC and expansions will be labeled the same as cosmetic items and loot boxes. There's also no indicator for games that don't launch with DLC but gets some unplanned down the road. The icon is a solid start, but it doesn't provide a great deal of information. Since most triple-A games feature some form of DLC or monetization, it's hard to imagine a game that won't be hit with this label.
This decision allegedly follows a recent consumer survey conducted by global market research and consulting firm Ipsos which showed that two in five parents of video game-playing children claim their children spend money in-game.
According to the survey, eight in ten of those parents have an agreement with their child about spending, such as requiring permission (60%), a spending limit (31%), use of parental controls (28%), monitoring credit card bills (25%), or using prepaid cards. Just 2% of parents do not monitor the in-game spending of their children.
What do you think? Are you pleased with rating boards taking action to identify and label games that feature microtransactions? Do you think it'll make a difference? Let us know in the comments!