Apple has updated the Apple App Store review guidelines so it now includes a section which states that developers creating games that include in-app purchases such as loot boxes and microtransactions must now reveal the odds of giving certain in-game items to players.
The update to Apple’s guidelines was picked up on by analyst Daniel Ahmad who posted a screenshot of the new rules on Twitter.
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) December 21, 2017
This new kind of regulation is similar to legislation found in China, however it hasn’t resulted in all companies revealing loot box odds to players. Indeed, many companies have attempted to find loopholes in the system. Some accused Blizzard of this when Hearthstone responded to new Chinese legislation by removing the option to purchase new cards and replacing them with sales of Arcane Dust (which can be used to create new cards). They also encourage spending by rewarding players with free packs based on how much real money the player has spent on Arcane Dust.
These new rules aren’t very prevalent in the gaming industry, but if more companies like Apple follow suit, it may force game developers and publishers to change their tactics and be more open regarding the issue of in-app purchases.
The topic of microtransactions and loot boxes is highly controversial in the gaming industry right now and the inclusion of them in triple-A games has seen quite a backlash from gamers. Governments around the world have started paying attention to the issue as there are many who argue it encourages gambling among children. It seems the issue is coming to a head and it’ll be interesting to see how the gaming landscape changes in the near future.