Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo will publish loot box drop rates… but what about Blizzard?
Loot boxes. We’ve talked about them before, and they’re a hot button topic right now in any discourse on gaming, gambling, addictive behavior and the monetization of compulsive gameplay. It’s not a surprise that several governments are looking at Loot Boxes and considering regulations on them, and so the Entertainment Software Association’s recent announcement that the big three console makers Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are planning on revealing loot box drop rates in any games on their platform comes as an expected bid to self-regulate before laws are drafted requiring them to do so.
Most companies prefer to gin up their own solutions rather than having something imposed legally, especially since if a big governmental entity like the EU outright bans loot boxes that could end up costing them a lot of money. It’s not a surprise, but it’s also not just those three companies who are committed to some form of disclosure on drop rates.
Many of the industry’s major publishers, including Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros., have agreed to implement a similar disclosure policy “no later than the end of 2020.”
So frankly, with the big three consoles set to require loot box drop rates be made public, and some of the biggest publishers also set to do likewise, at this point I’d say that yes, it’s a done deal — even companies that aren’t yet on board are going to have to get on the wagon here or they won’t be able to put their games on the Switch or PS4 or Xbox, and any future generation consoles as well. Since we’re already seeing mobile apps face a similar requirement from Apple, that means pretty much the whole market is going in this direction.
You’ll notice that Activision-Blizzard is on that list so yes, Overwatch is likely going to be affected, as well as Hearthstone and its card packs. Exactly how Blizzard is going to comply with this directive is unknown at this time, but with the end of 2020 as the target we may well see the first iteration on this fairly soon.
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