In-game purchases have been at the center of gaming-related controversy over the past year. From NBA 2K18 and Middle Earth: Shadow of War to Star Wars Battlefront II, everyone and their mom have basically complained about their implementation recently in one way or another. While only time will tell if developers change their in-game monetization practices, European Rating Board PEGI is taking steps to alert players of their inclusion on physical copies.
An in-game purchase content descriptor, which you can see below, will appear on the boxes of games that include them. They claim that this indicator will begin appearing on physical copies all across Europe “towards the end of this year.”
PEGI hopes that this will alert parents of their inclusion. According to them, a recent survey Ipsos conducted showed that 2 out of 5 parents had children that would spend their money on in-game microtransactions. While most of these parents did already monitor the spending, they will now be able to easily determine by looking at the box whether or not they want to get their children a game that includes in-game purchases.
Simon Little, Managing Director of PEGI, seemed to echo this in his statement regarding the new content descriptor:
“Making parents aware of the existence of optional in-game purchases upfront is an important first step. PEGI will now make this information available at the point of purchase, so that a parent can decide whether and how they want to monitor and/or limit a child’s spending.
While we know that parents use different methods to control spending, parental control tools are a very helpful next step in making sure that the overall online experience of the child is safe, including the possibility to control spending. Entering into a dialogue with the child about the games they enjoy is certainly a must for all parents. It will provide them with the necessary context to create a gaming environment both the children and the parents are comfortable with.
Purchase offers within games has become a broad phenomenon, and it is necessary to provide the same level of consumer information on both physical and digital releases. Considering that physical releases are an important part of the market, this was an important gap to fill.
For a parent who may not be fully familiar with the video games landscape, seeing this simple descriptor on the packaging of a game they consider buying should trigger the reflex of keeping an eye on the gameplay, once the game has been purchased and given to the child. It’s basic information, but that’s what parents sometimes feel they are lacking.”
PEGI already indicates this with digital purchases, so we won’t be seeing any major changes there this year. That being said, many European players should still be satisfied with this addition. It has yet to be seen whether other ratings boards like the United States’ ESRB will follow suit, but DualShockers will be sure to let you know if they do.