So we have all played one game or another that has loot boxes in one form or another. Where you can make a purchase with real money or with in-game credits.
Micro in-game transactions helps games companies make money and is an easier method to sell more in-game content to the fans of the game. We have all been there, finished a game and yearning for more. So naturally games developers will be looking at dynamic ways to create more revenue, to offset the thousands and millions it costs to create big block buster games.
What are loot boxes?
These items are micro transaction purchasable in-game content either by real money or in-game currency that can help you level up faster, give you better weapons, in other words, give you a distinct advantage over other games, thus creating a “Pay to Win” scenario. In effect, the more money you are willing to part with whether it is in-game credits/real money the more you will get out of the game and your chances for remaining unbeaten and almost always on the winning side of things especially when online game play against other gamers comes into it.
Gambling? In essence it kind of is, as you do not know what is in each loot box and they can contain/generate random items, some of use and some of no use. Earlier models of this type of in-game purchasable content can be found in games live Overwatch and mobile play games.
Which games contain this:
You can find this style of purchasing in:
Forza Motorsport 7
Star Wars Battlefront 2
Gears of War 4
Middle Earth: Shadow of War
A little while back EA got blasted by fans of the Star Wars Battlefront game about loot boxes. EA took it on the chin, but didn’t quite learn from the first time round when they made Battlefront 2 – the loot boxes debate reared it’s ugly head again, so much so that EA had to go back to the drawing board around it’s insertion of loot boxes in Battlefront 2. Not only was there a colossal back lash from the fans, but governments got involved, debating if loot boxes are a form of gambling? Disturbing and worrying, especially as children and young adults make up the fan bases as well as adults. This issue also rocked E’s share price, with the Netherlands deeming loot boxes as a form of gambling, with over world governments still investigating.
IGN spoke with GamesIndustry.biz Executive Vice President of Strategic Growth Matt Bilbey about the changed approach EA have taken.
“I ran a team internally with (Electronic Arts Chief Design Officer) Patrick Soderlund post-Battlefront to actually redesign our game development framework and testing platforms to ensure we’re giving our game teams the right guidance – we’ll call it an EA moral compass – at the beginning of development so that we are designing our live service early, we’re testing it early, testing it with gamers who are giving us feedback so we ensure those pillars of fairness, value and fun are true” Bilbey said.
From the smoke and flames of the issue, EA have came back and humbly holding up their hands and they want to make things fair and right by their fans. This doesn’t mean that loot boxes are being scrapped totally. EA are cooperating with government regulators to make its design process clear.
Electronic Arts has commented about loot boxes and has said that fairness is it’s top concern.
Are loot boxes here to stay? will they be disguised as something else? or will there be changes in the way it currently works?
Who’s to say, but if government regulatory bodies are analysing it, some form of change will be on the horizon for future games in the gaming industry.
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