In February 2018, the Entertainment Software Rating Board said that it would begin labeling physical copies of games with microtransactions as having “In-Game Purchases.” The idea, ESRB president Patricia Vance explained at the time, was to help ensure that “parents will know when a game contains offers for players to purchase additional content,” a goal spurred by the uproar over loot boxes.

The problem with the label, as we noted at the time, is that it covered everything from a season pass to a soundtrack to the loot boxes that got the whole ugly ball rolling in the first place. Vance said that was intentional: Most parents don’t actually know what a loot box is anyway, and so instead of burying them in detail, the ESRB’s goal was to be “clear, concise, and make it easy for them” to know whether a game could end up eating even more money after purchase.

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