Apple updates its iOS app guidelines for developers regarding loot boxes in games. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Loot boxes in games have been a huge a issue over the last few weeks and now it looks like Apple has taken notice. The tech giant has updated its guidelines for iOS app developers informing them they must disclose item drop rates ahead of purchases.

The Apple App Store is home to a plethora of different games. Most of which are free-to-play, but they also offer in-app purchases or microtransactions where players can pay real money to get in-game bonuses, power-ups and customization items. These are randomized virtual items paid by players with real money, much like the the loot boxes in “Star Wars Battlefront 2.”

“Apps offering ‘loot boxes’ or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase,” section 3.1.1 of Apple’s updated iOS developer guidelines read.

This type of rule isn’t really new since other countries have been doing this because of their laws. As pointed out by Game Rant, Blizzard had to reveal Overwatch loot box drop rates in China in accordance with the country’s laws. Meanwhile in Japan, Nintendo’s mobile game “Fire Emblem Heroes” also informs players of the odds of unlocking rare characters.

Some regulators are already arguing to classify the gaming mechanism as gambling since it encourages players to pay real money for a chance to get an advantage over other players. With Apple updating its iOS developer guidelines, it may not necessarily mean that the company is taking a side in this ongoing issue.

Apple isn’t banning in-app purchases or microtransactions in iOS games, nor has it given any other strict guidelines that outright tell developers how to implement them. It seems as though Apple is simply trying to make microtransactions in iOS games feel less like gambling by informing players of their chances even before purchasing. In the end, developers still have control over how they apply odds in their loot boxes.

“The guiding principle of the App Store is simple - we want to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful,” Apple said. “We have updated the App Review Guidelines with that principle in mind.”

This small change in how microtransactions work in iOS games may not be a big deal, but it seems like an important first step in dealing with loot boxes in the mobile space. Some mobile games are already quite notorious when it comes to in-app purchases and players have contended with it for some time now.

In addition to updating the guidelines for loot boxes in iOS games, Apple also revised its rules on template-based apps. Previously, the company completely banned apps from its App Store if they were created from a commercialized template or an app generation service, according to TechCrunch.

An app created with templates can now be accepted in the App Store as long as it’s been “submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content.” Apple also said that it will accept template-based apps as long as the template provider creates “a single binary to host all client content in an aggregated ‘picker’ model.”