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Google announced a handful of new rules that Android developers must abide by to launch a game on its official storefront yesterday, including one that requires developers to disclose the odds for any “randomized virtual items” ahead of purchase.
The Developer Policy Center’s monetization and ads section now says that “apps offering mechanisms to receive randomized virtual items from a purchase (i.e. 'loot boxes') must clearly disclose the odds of receiving those items in advance of purchase.”
It’s a move that comes when loot boxes as a monetization mechanic are under a great deal of scrutiny. A US Senator introduced a bill just last week that aims to ban non-cosmetic loot boxes (and other “pay to win” design and mechanics) in games playable by children, and prior to that the FTC scheduled a public workshop for August to discuss different topics and issues surrounding loot boxes.
Publicly disclosing the odds for loot box drops and giving players a better idea of their chances for getting a desirable item for their purchase is something individual developers have already done in response to that ongoing loot box conversation. Rocket League dev Psyonix, for instance, disclosed the rarity rates for its Rocket League Crates last summer, while other games like FIFA 19 and Dota 2 have added similar disclosures in the past year.