Loot boxes. They’re fucking everywhere. They’re in Dota 2, they’re in Destiny 2, they’re in PAYDAY 2, they’re in Team Fortress 2, they’re everywhere. They’re swarming everything. Almost every free to play game has a loot box system, and pay to play games are doing the same thing as well.
Thing is, a loot box system is fine in a free to play game, assuming you can get them just by playing the game, and assuming it’s just cosmetics and maybe experience boosters and fun things like that. F2P games NEED some sort of other revenue, and often just selling cosmetics in a store isn’t enough. A chance-based system to get good cosmetics for less real money is a good way of doing that, since people are often willing to roll the dice for a chance to get something amazing for less. And because people like gambling. I understand that. These loot boxes are how F2P games stay afloat.
This IS assuming that everything is cosmetic or otherwise does not affect gameplay in your loot boxes. A real F2P game should be capable of being played without spending any money what so ever.
But they’re appearing by the metric ton in AAA games and big money purchases. Overwatch is a good example of this. While you do get loot boxes reasonably easily and can amass a nice handful of skins just by playing the game normally, there’s still an option to purchase loot boxes with real money. Despite the fact that you paid $30-40 for the game. There’s not even a guarantee you’ll ever get the skin you want, because of how random the loot boxes are; how random getting duplicates is, to get coins to unlock the skin you want; how many skins and characters there already are and finally the constantly increasing amount of content.
Destiny 2 also had a little… debacle when it came to cosmetics. Dyes used to recolour armour changed from multi-use to single use items. Alright, you don’t NEED to change the colour of your armour, but it seems silly and money-grabbing to change it.
I swear, the likes of Warframe have spoiled me. Team Fortress 2 as well, what with the fact that early crates were literally just hats. Kinda seems lame to lock strange weapons away completely in crates, but eh, they are technically cosmetic. Thing is, I actually don’t have much of a problem with loot boxes in F2P games. It’s the big titles that bother me.
You’ve already paid for the game. You might also have paid extra to pre-order or unlock some sort of bonus. You might also end up paying for DLC content further down the line. It seems like a bit much to continue to nickel and dime players when a company might have already made anywhere between $30 and $100 out of each one. But it could also be used as a cheap excuse to promote longevity for a game, saying you’ll continue to add new models and cosmetics rather than adding something as complicated as adding a real expansion. That’s certainly what’s kept Team Fortress 2 alive for so long, the adding of new cosmetics, taunting players with the idea of new weapons, events and game modes.
These loot boxes though are here to stay. At the very least they’ll be sticking around for a while. Because they are oh so simple and easy to do, and because there are ALWAYS people with more money than they need, willing to spend it all on looking good. There’s always plenty of people who are easily swayed by gambling and the desire to win big. Loot boxes will remain as long as people spend money on them.
While loot boxes might seem like gambling, in a way, they’re not. Yes, you often spend real money to open a loot box, but since you are guaranteed a prize every time you open them, they kinda fall under the same category as a gatcha machine, or getting a ton of tickets in an arcade. And because it’s just a game, some people get lost in it all. Heck, I’ve seen my own siblings overspend on these things, claiming that it’s just a game and it doesn’t matter, then realising that they’ve fucked up.
But really, not everyone can resist the temptation of shiny, rare loot. Occasionally, I’m one of those people too. There’s an inherent thrill with all games of chance, that hope of getting something awesome.
The only thing that stops me is my constant shitty bad luck.