The Entertainment Software Rating Board is adding a new clarification to its on-package game rating system, and will now specify if a game’s real-money transactions involve any sort of random element like a loot box mechanic with a "in-game purchases (includes random items)" label.
It's an evolution of the “in-game purchases” label that the ESRB rolled out back in 2018 in response to rising loot box concerns, and one that aims to help better inform parents and players alike about what kind of premium transactions a game features.
Loot boxes tend to be the surprise mechanic that garners the most public concern, the new "includes random items" specification also covers gacha mechanics, in-game card packs, prize wheels, and similar features that attach elements of chance to either real-world money or premium game currency.
While ESRB research shows that parents are mostly concerned with if a game simply offers real-money transactions, the board says that it received numerous requests from “consumers and enthusiasts” to tighten up its existing language and note if a game’s transactions include loot boxes.
The previous in-game purchases label will still be used to flag any game that features any sort of digital transaction like cosmetics, expansions, or other forms of DLC.