Understanding in game purchases

In-game purchases are the opportunity to buy additional items or content in the game using real money. One type of in-game purchase is loot boxes. Loot boxes are video game mechanics that provide random in-game virtual items to players in exchange for real-world money or in-game virtual currency.

In-game purchases

Some games offer the opportunity to buy additional items or content using real money, for example, new outfits, more powerful weapons or access to other levels. Where a game includes items you can buy for real money, it will be made clear on the game, using the following icon:

PEGI in game purchases

You’ll find this icon on the back of the packaging for games bought in shops, as well as on major online storefronts from which games can be downloaded.

In some cases, the items you’re offered might be randomised, meaning you won’t know exactly what you’re buying until you get it. For example, you might buy some new players for a sports team but not be told who you’ll be getting. In those cases, it will be made clear on the game that the items you’re paying for are random. Here’s how we show the presence of random items:

examples of PEGI ratings and descriptors

It’s important to know that these in-game purchases are often optional and you can still play games without them.

Loot boxes

A loot box is a video game mechanic that provides random in-game virtual items to players in exchange for real-world money or in-game virtual currency.  


Most in-game purchases are cosmetic, but there are some that provide a tangible benefit in the game, for example, some in-game purchases offer the chance to get either rare or common items. They are purchased blind so that you don’t know what you are getting ahead of time. There is a risk-reward of spending money on these to get an uncertain outcome, but you are not obliged to purchase these at any point. 


The video games industry recognises that this may concern parents therefore it is promoting industry principles to provide all players with access to and greater awareness of spending controls and provide transparent information to support safe and responsible play.


These principles recommend that the games industry acts to restrict loot box purchases by under-18s without parental consent. Other recommendations include the implementation of easy-to-use spending controls for all players, clear disclosure of the presence of loot boxes and the probability of receiving virtual items, and lenient refund policies for purchases made without parental consent.

More information on these Industry principles can be found here.