Physical video games that allow in-game purchases or loot boxes will display a warning icon on their packaging under a new ruling.
The Pan European Game Information (Pegi) announced the news this week, stating that an icon of a hand holding a credit card will exist on physical game cases alongside other icons such as those indicating age restrictions or warnings if a game features sex, drugs, bad language, gambling or themes likely to generate fear in players.
Many modern-day games feature in-game purchases in which players can buy items or cosmetic skins, clothing and more. Some games also feature loot boxes, rewards in video games that contain items hidden from view until after they have been won or purchased.
Simon Little, the Managing Director of Pegi, said: “Making parents aware of the existence of optional in-game purchases upfront is an important step. Pegi will now make this information available at the point of purchase, so that a parent can decide whether and how they want to monitor and/or limit a child’s spending.”
The warning has been shown on digital purchases for some time now but has only moved to physical products now. According to Little, the icons will begin appearing on physical products towards the end of the year.
Lootboxes: Gambling for Children?
There’s been a recent uproar over loot boxes and microtransactions in the gaming industry in recent months. An Ipsos survey from May revealed that 40% of parents whose children played video games allowed them to purchase digital items within agreed spending limits or under supervision.
However, one 11-year-old boy made headlines in the UK after spending almost £6,000 on digital purchases. The recent backlash has led Belguim to ban the purchases from games in their country this year.
Meanwhile, UK gambling support charity BeGambleAware claimed last month that loot boxes “normalise gambling” for children. They also suggested that more than one in ten British children are “effectively gambling” due to video game loot boxes.