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Guideline changes mean App Store devs must now reveal loot crate odds

Guideline changes mean App Store devs must now reveal loot crate odds

December 21, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

A change to the App Store guidelines means developers using loot boxes or similar mechanics must now reveal the odds for each item drop. 

Apple altered the guidelines earlier this week, and it's a timely move given the current furor surrounding the increasingly controversial monetization technique. 

The new ruling has been added under subsection 3.1.1., and explains that "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."

Apple says that anyone who brings the integrity of the App Store into disrepute by disregarding its guidelines may be expelled from the Developer Program. 

It sends a serious message, but the Cupertino giant isn't the only organization scrutinizing the model. Back in November, a number of U.S. politicians called for a clamp down on loot boxes, branding them 'predatory' and exploitative.

Officials in the UK and Belgium have also been investigating the risks posed by loot crates, with the Belgian Minister of Justice suggesting he'd like to see them banned outright

Although most calling for regulation take the view that loot boxes are a form of gambling, not everyone agrees. 

Two-Two president Karl Slatoff recently refuted that notion, along with the ESA and New Zealand’s gambling regulator, which explained "that loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling," and therefore can't be treated as such. 

The debate will likely rage on into the new year, but for the time being it looks like the games industry will have to regulate itself.

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