The ESRB itself, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, has finally stepped in on the microtransactions debate. The ESRB microtransaction ratings will soon be finding their way onto video game boxes to advise buyers that the game they’re about to buy contains in-game purchases to help combat predatory microtransactions in games.
Microtransactions have been in the news again recently after the tremendous uproar over Star Wars Battlefront 2 and its own microtransactions, which locked heroes like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Maul behind paywalls that could only be unlocked either by either grinding for credits for hours or by straight up buying them.
While EA removed those shortly before the game released, the uproar was bad enough that numerous states in the United States are discussing passing legislation to ban microtransactions, such as Hawaii.
The ESRB microtransaction ratings will focus not just on paywalls for important parts of the game, but also cosmetics like new costumes, skins, and more.
Microtransactioons have been seen as predatory and dangerous to the financial health of many for a long time now, especially with various incidents where children who don’t understand what they’re doing end up spending huge amounts of money on microtransactions.
The ESRB is also going to be countering things like that with a new website, ParentalTools.org, in order to educate parents about what exactly microtransactions entail, and how they can protect themselves (and their bank accounts) from getting taken advantage of by them.
While this may not stop microtransactions from being used, hopefully the ESRB microtransaction ratings will at least keep more parents and gamers aware of what they’ll be in for in games that they play. The ESRB has also said that they’ll be making more adjustments as the need arises, so the policy may continue to evolve as microtransactions do.