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Google Now Requires App Makers To Disclose Loot Box Odds

The Elder Scrolls Blades is one of many smartphone games on Android that has loot boxes.
The Elder Scrolls Blades is one of many smartphone games on Android that has loot boxes.
Screenshot: The Elder Scrolls: Blades (Bethesda)

Google rolled out a new Play Store policy requiring game makers to show players what the chances are of getting any items that might be contained in a paid random-chance scenario.

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Spotted by the website Android Police, the new requirement, listed in the monetization section of Google’s Development Policy Center, states: “Apps offering mechanisms to receive randomized virtual items from a purchase (i.e. ‘loot boxes’) must clearly disclose the odds of receiving those items in advance of purchase.” Apple created a similar rule for its App Store at the end of 2017.

The new rule comes a week after Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri introduced the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act in Congress, a piece of legislation that seeks to remove “pay-to-win microtransactions” and the sale of loot boxes in games aimed at minors. The bill has received some bipartisan support, as well as criticism from the Entertainment Software Association, the gaming industry’s lobbying group, which called it “flawed and riddled with inaccuracies.”

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The backlash against loot boxes has already led to major changes in some other countries, most notably Belgium, where loot boxes in games like FIFA and Overwatch were declared illegal, and subsequently removed for players in that country. Earlier this month, Nintendo announced that it would remove Fire Emblem: Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which both feature loot boxes, from app stores in Belgium starting August 27.

Nintendo’s latest mobile game, Mario Kart Tour, is currently undergoing a closed beta on Android. While it does have loot box mechanics and a lot of microtransactions, it also already contains a breakdown of the odds for what players can get every time they spend gems on another shot at its lottery system. Players have a 0.3367 percent chance of getting Dry Bowser, for instance. The more you know.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

Another big change is additions to sexual content rules. You know how Fire Emblem “strategically tears” clothing when someone is injured? Probably gonna have to go.

Banning “illustrations of sexually suggestive poses” outright kills the entire gacha lineup probably.

https://play.google.com/about/restricted-content/inappropriate-content/sexual-content/

Sexual Content

We don’t allow apps that contain or promote sexual content, such as pornography, or any content or services intended to be sexually gratifying. Content that contains nudity may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific or artististic, and is not gratuitous.

Here are some examples of common violations:

  • Depictions of nudity in which the subject is nude or minimally clothed, and where the clothing would not be acceptable in an appropriate public context.
  • Depictions, animations or illustrations of sex acts or sexually suggestive poses.
  • Content that depicts sexual aids and fetishes.Content that is lewd or profane.
  • Content that depicts, describes, or encourages bestiality.
  • Apps that promote sex-related entertainment, escort services or other services that may be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation.