Google is cracking down on app developers that include 'loot boxes' in their games, requiring them to start disclosing the odds of winning (GOOG, GOOGL)


google play

  • The Google Play Store has updated its policies to make the digital platform more family-friendly.
  • Apps designed for children will now have to specify their target age range. Games that sell randomized digital items (also known as loot boxes) will need to disclose the odds of winning a particular item. 
  • This includes new rules for apps designed for children and apps depicting sexual content, hate speech, drug use, and alcohol.
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The Google Play Store has introduced new rules to police apps and content designed for children and families.

Google will now require Play Store developers to specify their app’s target age range, and disclose when they are collecting personal data from children using the app.

Games that sell “loot boxes,” digital packages that contain randomized items, will also need to disclose the odds of getting each item. Additionally, games that depict excessive use of alcohol or promote drug use will no longer be allowed on the platform.

Google’s policy changes come as officials in Washington consider new regulations to protect children from predatory business practices across all digital platforms. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have criticized the use of micro-transactions in video games, suggesting that loot boxes can foster gambling addiction when marketed towards children. The Federal Trade Commission will hold a workshop on August 7 to discuss loot boxes and other micro-transactions with members of the gaming industry.

Read more: A US senator is pushing a bill to stop ‘Fortnite’ and other games from selling ‘loot boxes’ to kids. Here’s why loot boxes are causing so much panic.

Apple implemented similar changes for loot boxes in December 2017, requiring all App Store developers to disclose their odds for microtransactions. Apple also discourages tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol use in apps approved for the App Store.

With regulators in different countries focusing their attention on the world’s most popular digital storefronts, it seems that Google is planning to be proactive with Play Store policy moving forward.

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