Apple Inc. has taken notice of the loot box issues that has caused a lot of controversy during the last couple of months and has taken steps towards keeping it under control. The tech giant has now issued guidelines for any iOS developer planning to have loot boxes in any game on the platform. The main thrust of it is that customers will be informed directly about the odds of getting particular rewards from a loot box.
Loot boxes have become a regular sight in many computer games. They function very much like random booster packs for collectible cards. From these, players can get a variety of power-ups and customization options. They've become so popular that many companies use them as vectors for micro-transactions. Players buy a loot box and open it, hoping to get something valuable.
For many people, the random factor is what makes it a bit like gambling. Likening it to slot machines, concerned parties like legislators and customer protection groups have been lobbying for controls on this particular aspect of micro-transactions.
This is not the first time loot boxes have been targeted by regulation. China has officially legislated the need to reveal loot box chances, with Blizzard being forced to reveal the odds for their Overwatch loot boxes. Japan has also taken similar steps, with the latest target being Fire Emblem Heroes loot boxes revealing the chance to get rare characters. The big difference this time is that iOS is an OS platform and crosses borders. Any game that enters the iOS environment and wants to use loot boxes will now have to reveal the odds fully.
The main thrust of this change is that a lot of people feel that loot boxes are too close to gambling. Players often spend hundreds of dollars to open loot boxes so that they can get rare power-ups and clothing. This has caused a lot of backlash from customers. The most recent example is the Star Wars Battlefront II loot box fiasco, which caused a firestorm online and had official responses from several legislators.
As it is, the Apple change is not that bad for loot boxes. People can still buy them, but they will be better informed about the odds of getting what they want. This will make it feel less like a gamble. This also puts a bit of control on micro-transactions, something that many apps on the iOS are notorious for.