Recently, Apple has made some questionable choices when it comes to consumers, yet they have also made one which directly benefits consumers. Loot boxes in games are a bit like booster pack cards, wherein a user can spend money to open a virtual case or card pack and receive an in-game item in return. Games on PC like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Hearthstone (which is also on Android and iOS) employ these loot boxes in the form of cases and booster packs respectively. Apple now says that any games which provide these loot boxes on the App Store must disclose the odds of getting different items in each of these loot boxes. Other games that would be affected are The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Clash Royale.
Apple is known for their stringent rules on their App Store—applications must reach a certain quality standard to be released, with Apple actually testing and reviewing applications (though not always) before they even go live. Now with the recent controversy over loot boxes in games, Apple is taking a stance and making sure that app developers disclose their odds. This is in an attempt to mitigate gambling, as these loot boxes are somewhat of a grey area when it comes to defining what they are.
“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” – quote from Apple’s updated App Store review guidelines
In China, applications with loot boxes legally have to supply loot box odds somewhere within the application, which is basically what Apple has just started to require. The increased transparency is welcomed by all, but will this change mean that users are less likely to buy them? Maybe, maybe not.
Although this disclosure is not required in apps distributed through the Google Play Store, it will at least provide users of cross-platform games an easy way to view loot box odds by simply navigating to the game’s App Store page. Furthermore, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see Google eventually follow suit and implement such a requirement. Google has recently announced major changes in the Play Store to crack down on apps targeting older API levels, so they’re not hesitant to roll out sweeping changes to their policies.
Do you think Google should require games with loot boxes to disclose the odds of getting each item? Let us know in the comments below!