There is no denying that the intention of loot boxes in video games is to provide an added revenue stream for developers and publishers. When put that way, that honestly doesn’t make me feel all to happy. So why do I feel so mixed about them?
When getting a loot box in a game, it is essentially like playing the lottery. There are always those rare items that you want the most. Yes, you do get some through the course of playing the game; but usually not enough to get lucky enough to land that item (unless you are just extremely lucky). This leads to buying more loot crates in hopes one of them contains that elusive rare item. To top it off, most of the items would have previously been added to a game via DLC not that long ago.
Now, where I have mixed feelings about this lies with how they are implemented. Take Overwatch by Blizzard for example. This is a loot box system I can personally get behind as it makes absolutely no impact on how I play the game. Everything is cosmetic. Granted, I wish I could just buy it all in a DLC pack, namely the skins, but I can live with it. I even don’t mind the loot boxes Middle-earth: Shadow of War by Monolith. While these contain in game items that can directly make the game easier, it is all in single player. For those just wanting to progress normally, there is no need to get them. For those wanting a boost to get through it faster or get past a tough spot, they can get a few.
Now take Star Wars Battlefront II by EA. This is a loot box system that has actually turned me away from wanting to get the game, which makes me a little sad as I love Star Wars. While their loot boxes contain in-game items that directly impact gameplay, this is a multiplayer game in which those in-game items can give a player a definitive edge. For those willing to dish out extra cash on top of their $60 purchase, those that don’t want to or can’t are punished. Yes EA is backtracking on each concern, the fact that they started this way just shows me they care far more for money then actually making the players happy. For more details on EA’s current backtracks, here are a couple of articles from Polygon that cover both the beta loot box and the more recent Hero unlock criticism.
While I still can’t say I’m thrilled with loot boxes, I can live with them when they only impact single player gaming or add cosmetic customization in multiplayer. I just don’t think they have a place in multiplayer games in which they reward players able to spend that extra cash and punish those that can’t or just don’t want to. Just ends up sucking the fun out of the game for me.