Apple has updated its App Store developer guidelines in the wake of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 fiasco. The change now requires all developers that offer lootboxes to disclose the probability of receiving any particular item; and is aimed at protecting consumers from predatory practices.
The idea of selling bundles of in-game items is something extremely widespread across games these days, especially those in the mobile space. Used properly, the method can be a way for developers of free apps to monetise their work. However, it’s often used as a way of gouging extra profit out of customers with poor impulse control or those that are too young to understand what is happening.
This behaviour drew a massive amount of attention after Electronic Arts tried to implement a particularly oppressive version of lootboxes in SWBF2. Offering powerful weapon and character upgrades that drop at random. Fortunately, a public outcry forced franchise owner Disney to step in and prevent the feature from being implemented.
Apple is not the only one looking to protect consumers from lootboxes. China has passed similar legislation, and several European countries are investigating if this form of monetisation counts as gambling. If anything, it may help clean up the mess that has become the mobile game scene.