The Elder Scrolls Online beats Genshin Impact for loot box awareness

Loot boxes and in-game purchases are becoming more and more common, but as a recent study has revealed, social media ads often omit those features. The Elder Scrolls Online ads were up front with its loot boxes while many others, Genshin Impact included, failed to highlight them at all.

Whether you’re a fan of The Elder Scrolls Online or not, there’s one thing this MMORPG is doing right, and that’s telling people about its lootboxes and in-game purchases.

There’s a whole other argument about whether games, paid games in particular, should have microtransactions but I’ll sidestep that for now. However, as a recent European study (spotted by GamesIndustry) has discovered, social media adverts for online games typically fail to mention either lootboxes or in-game purchases.

That’s a particularly big deal in Europe as the study, which focuses on Meta-owned platforms such as Facebook and TikTok, points out. The US isn’t as strict, but European directives require adverts to disclose those aspects of a game. And, in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld several complaints for just that reason.

As the creator of the study, Leon Y. Xiao, discovered “In the UK alone, the 93 most viewed TikTok adverts failing to disclose loot box presence were watched 292,641,000 times total or approximately ten impressions per active user.”

That’s not to say that all those people go on to spend money on the game, but it’s one heck of a huge audience who remain unaware of these games’ microtransactions.

None of the three Genshin Impact adverts Xiao investigated included either loot box or in-game purchase warnings. The Elder Scrolls Online was one of just a few titles that did disclose all its in-game purchases and lootboxes in every advert that Xiao saw.

However, he also pointed out that, even when adverts to have warnings, it can sometimes be hard to pick them out. Xiao gave this Apex Legends TikTok advert as an example, explaining how the already tiny warning could be obscured by UI elements. It might technically be compliant but it’s still not a great look.

So what’s to be done? The study, which was funded by the IT University of Copenhagen as part of a PhD programme, suggests that warnings shouldn’t just be present, they should be clearer.

An image of several social media gaming adverts.

“A more prominent form of disclosure would be for the PEGI loot box label and age rating information to be displayed over a black background for at least five seconds”, he explains, “similar to what is done by the major companies with video game trailers.”

Will anything happen? Even if all countries made warnings compulsory, the money companies stand to make from in-game purchases would almost certainly make it worth risking the ire of the authorities.

If you’re planning on diving into ESO, raise the dead with these Elder Scrolls Online necromancer skills. Or, if you’re holding out hope for the Elder Scrolls 6 release date, here’s everything we know so far.

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