Reed Smith Client Alerts

In light of the pressure from increased media scrutiny and damning reports from public bodies, video game publishers and distributors must now include loot box warnings on physical video game rating labels and on digital storefronts. Critics have long decried the harmful effects of loot boxes (particularly for vulnerable groups such as children and the disabled), often drawing parallels with gambling. While the legality of including loot box mechanics in games remains unchanged, their presence must now be flagged to the consumer.

The North American video games regulator, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), recently announced plans to require game publishers to include a new warning if a game contains loot boxes or any other random paid-for items or content. 

The label, reading “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)” is broad and captures a wide range of paid-for products in games (such as downloadable content and other non-random items). The ESRB confirmed that the updated warning would be assigned to games with “loot boxes, item or card packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more”.

Client Alert 2020-246 - ESRB image