Google’s latest update to its Google Play policies now requires app developers to disclose the odds of receiving virtual items from loot boxes prior to purchase of the loot box. The change brings Google Play into lockstep with the Apple App Store, which implemented similar requirements in December 2017.
Loot boxes are in-game items that often contain a randomized or partially-randomized assortment of in-game items, ranging from purely cosmetic changes in character appearances, to powerful weapons, equipment or support abilities. Loot boxes have recently become the subject of international regulatory scrutiny, including proposed federal legislation here in the U.S. and an ongoing investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
In an update to the Google Play Developer Policy, Google’s Monetization and Ads rules now require that:
Apps offering mechanisms to receive randomized virtual items from a purchase (i.e. "loot boxes") must clearly disclose the odds of receiving those items in advance of purchase.
The policy change mirrors similar requirements that Apple implemented on the Apple App Store in 2017. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent these disclosure requirements will impact the ongoing debate regarding the need for stricter rules regarding loot boxes and similar monetization models.