Apple now requires App Store games with loot boxes to list odds

Enlarge / This is not the way loot boxes work in the Xbox/Windows exclusive Forza Motorsport 7. After Aurich's Photoshop job, however, we almost wish it were. (credit: Turn 10 / Aurich remix)

Apple rolled out a number of iOS App Store rule changes on Wednesday, and the one that catches your eye will likely depend on your mobile-app interests. The biggest change, at least in terms of number of people likely reached, is a tweak to a major rule about video games on the platform: how loot boxes are advertised to players.

9to5Mac was among the first sites to dig into the rules update and pick out the big changes, and it found that Apple has opted to use the term "loot boxes," which it defines as "mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase." Now, any game or app that utilizes such a random-item system "must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase."

While loot-box mechanics have landed in news headlines thanks to major console games, the practice was popularized long ago in free-to-play mobile games on iOS and Android, typically in a Japanese genre known as "gacha." The most prominent example of this type of mobile game in the West is arguably Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes, which launched on all smartphone platforms earlier this year and encourages players to accumulate fighters, knights, and mages by getting them out of virtual slot machines—which dole out random rewards, not static or guaranteed ones. Currency for those slot machines can be earned by playing the game, but you can get that currency faster by paying real-world money.

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