Europe's PEGI is making the first steps towards combating the growth of microtransactions and loot boxes in video games, through the launch of a new content descriptor. PEGI, which stands for Pan European Game Information, is Europe's equivalent of the ESRB, established in 2003 to help video game players have guidance on the content of releases.
In general, PEGI has faced the same kind of challenges as its counterpart on the other side of the Atlantic, including the rise of microtransactions and loot boxes. Now, it turns out that PEGI is following suit when it comes to warnings about in-app purchases in games. After the ESRB announced the introduction of an in-game purchases label earlier this year, PEGI is now going to do the same.
The move was announced by PEGI directly, confirming that a new content descriptor for in-game purchases is going to be added to physical releases of games. Currently the label is included for digital releases, and it will be introduced across the board for all versions. The warning is there to advise that the game in question offers the "possibility of spending money within a video game."
"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," stated Managing Director Simon Little. In particular PEGI clearly wants to make parents aware of potential pitfalls when it comes to in-game purchases such as microtransactions, as parents may not be aware of what a title includes. "It’s basic information, but that’s what parents sometimes feel they are lacking."
There are, however, some potential issues with this plan which may need to be addressed. For starters, microtransactions and in-game purchases have become so prevalent in video games that more clarification may be suitable on exactly what kind of purchase it is. For instance, there's a big difference between being able to buy cosmetic items but with free game DLC or something more pervasive like loot boxes. After all, even though microtransaction purchases are predicted to drop this year, it's still a huge part of the gaming industry.
Even so, it's still good to see that more awareness is being shared across the world when it comes to microtransactions. There's been a push back against loot boxes in particular, whether its Forza finally dropping loot boxes or even more countries considering them as gambling, and allowing people to see if there could be an impact from an in-game purchase perspective is another good step.