Opinion: Loot Boxes, A Looming Threat To The Industry?
If you grew up in the 80s and/or the 90s, you might remember how it typically was for purchasing videogames: you paid, you received.
With the power of the internet, it is no secret that things have drastically changed as far as how we spend our money. With the ability patch games and distribute post-release content, requiring only an internet connection from the receiving party, it is no wonder developers have taken advantage of this, both for good and bad…
What good can come of this? Fixing games, for starters. Gaming development has become increasingly complex with the way technology evolves daily. Among other good things, DLC, when done correctly. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an example of this, delivering some of the best expansions I have ever seen in a game and doubling the game’s worth and duration.
But when does it go downhill? When games are released to meet a deadline, despite not receiving enough polish. Like mentioned above, DLC can be well done, but it can also be shady. Anyone remember the Street Fighter X Tekken fiasco ? The too long, didn’t read version is: Capcom released a game with paid, disc-locked DLC. As expected, an outrage ensued and left gamer's thinking about such practice.
Expansions, DLC, microtransactions, these are nothing new. Microtransactions, particularly, have come under a lot of fire lately. In some instances because consumers believe certain content should be free, others because some games rely on a pay-to-win model, but now, loot boxes have come under a lot of fire as well.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, a “Loot Box” is a form of DLC that consists in receiving a virtual box containing goods for which you have to use some kind of special token or currency to open. Now, this doesn’t sound too bad, right? Developers have been using them for years, and to be honest, a lot of the things you can find in them are merely cosmetic and have no effect whatsoever on gameplay.
The problem is when loot boxes get too involved in a game. As a recent example, EA has come under fire for their managing of loot boxes for the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront 2, as reported by Polygon , where loot boxes actually affect player stats, thus giving advantage to those who outright spend more money. Shadow of War publisher, Warner Bros., has also been the target of criticism for including a bonus ending to the game’s story as something purchasable, though this has more to do with microtransactions in general. To be fair, players will have the option of grinding, but it is just too time consuming and makes purchasing a better option.
The problem is becoming so big, that a U.K lawmaker has gotten involved in the controversy , also reported by Polygon, citing the need “to protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.” Many are now worried about how this system will be handled in the future.
With all of this being said, what do you think of this “problem”? Personally, I think we are definitely going in the wrong direction. While it is true that many games let you get everything with lots of playtime, and while it is also true that a lot of things loot boxes offer are merely cosmetic, it can become a greater threat if we, the consumers, have no say in the matter.
Related Game(s): Loot boxes