Shopping around for loot box presence warning labels: Unsatisfactory compliance on Epic, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft platforms

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Loot boxes are gambling-like products in video games that players can buy with real-world money to obtain random prizes. Many countries are concerned by their potential harms and are considering regulation. Industry self-regulation of companies’ own behavior is an alternative approach to direct government intervention through legislation. The self-regulatory age rating organizations in North America and Europe began assigning a loot box presence warning label (‘In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)’) since April 2020. This consumer protection measure has also been introduced to many digital storefronts. My recent study found that only 29% of popular games containing loot boxes were correctly labeled on the Google Play Store. The age rating organizations have seemingly suggested that other digital storefronts with significantly less content would, in contrast, perform significantly better. The present study found that the compliance rates were indeed higher on the Microsoft (89.1%), Sony (70.3%), and Nintendo (54.2%) stores. However, none met the target 95% compliance rate. Concerningly, the Epic Games Store’s compliance rate was only 7.1%. Some remedial actions have been taken following the present study: while appreciated, they have failed to address all outstanding concerns. Companies and platform providers must better comply with and enforce the rules. Besides poor efficacy on mobile platforms, the industry self-regulatory loot box warning label is also not sufficiently reliable on PC and console platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalGames: Research and Practice
Volume1
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)25:1–25:25
Number of pages25
ISSN2832-5516
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2023

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