After the recent loot box debacle, it appears Apple has taken steps to make the loot boxes of mobile gaming more consumer friendly.
A recent update to the Appstore Review Guidelines, the regulations developers have to follow to get their apps on the app store, makes it mandatory for apps to disclose the odds of prices prior to the purchase of loot boxes. Specifically, and addition to point 3.1.1 reads:
- Apps offering “loot boxes” or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase.
This is similar to laws in certain Asian countries pertaining to so-called Gacha Games, in particular a Chinese law from 2016 that forced developers to make information about the prices and their odds known. This caused several large game developers, including Riot Games (League of Legends) and Perfect World (Chinese Dota 2), to make their drop rates public. At least for Chinese players.
Interestingly, Blizzard dodged these regulations on their digital card game Hearthstone by selling “arcane dust” and giving packs as an additional “gift”. By not directly selling the packs, they are not forced to release the information. A similar system is in place for Overwatch.
That said, this is a step towards making these mechanics more fair and transparent, at least in the App Store.