With app stores now listing apps that come with in-app purchases, it looks like the ESRB will be applying the same principle to physical games. Basically what this means is that in the future when you purchase games in physical form, it should be labeled on the box/cover of the game that there might be in-game purchases.
Now since not all in-game purchases are equal, the ESRB has also stated that they plan on launching an informational campaign aimed mostly at parents who might not understand the differences between the various in-game purchases. For example DLCs are considered in-game purchases, but there is a clear difference between paying for the addition of new content to the game, like new maps, new race tracks, expanded story, and so on, compared to purchasing loot boxes which some consider to be a form of gambling.
This should hopefully clear the air for parents who might otherwise see all in-game purchases to be bad, or might not know that their kids are spending hundreds of dollars “gambling” trying to win that rare item via loot boxes. However it should be noted that the ESRB is simply trying to educate parents and consumers about the different types of in-game purchases because according to ArsTechnica, the ESRB still doesn’t think of loot boxes as gambling.
Speaking to the publication, ESRB President Patricia Vance said, “We think [loot boxes are] a fun way to acquire virtual items for use within the game, to personalize your experience.”
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