First, there was ZT Online, then Team Fortress 2, but now loot boxes are destroying games such as Destiny 2, Forza Motorsport 7 and Shadow of War.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is just the latest AAA title to admit to including a variation on loot crates. Loot boxes are the latest strategy video game developers and publishers are using to manipulate their player-base into parting with more and more money.
Video game companies are notorious for finding ways to squeeze every last cent that they can from players. From cosmetic micro-transactions (Oblivion’s $2.50 horse armor stole headlines a decade ago, but these days Black Desert Online scalps players for substantially more for cosmetic items) to season passes that loosely commit to half-decent additional content, players have parted ways with their hard earned cash for some seriously poor items in the past – but at least they got what they were buying.
Loot crates are exchanging real-world money for the chance of getting something decent in return. It’s gambling in its purest form, engineered to suck gamers dry.
There are reasons we have gambling laws. The human brain is susceptible to getting sucked into the “one more go, one more chance” mentality. The fact that video games use gambling psychology primarily on kids through to young adults, a very vulnerable age range, is sickening.
Many games are no longer about getting lost in virtual world with a deep and engaging story, with hours of fun; it’s about how much video game companies can get from you before you get bored.
Rocket League has crates, which can unlock exclusive cars and cosmetic items. FIFA Ultimate Team has card packs, which can unlock the best players for your football team (but most likely a player you’ve never heard of), and the Division has Encrypted Caches which gives players…well, slightly better versions of stuff you already have, if you’re lucky. Each are money sinks with a small chance of success.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 has stepped over the line from cosmetics to blatant pay to win bullshit. Angry Joe’s recent video summed it up nicely:
Players can busy hundreds of hours into unlocking the weapons they need to actual be competitive, or they can gamble endlessly for the chance to get a head start. It’s a tactic that has been rife in mobile gaming for years, but the distinction is that the majority of those titles are free.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 players will play $80+ for the Elite Trooper Deluxe Edition and will then pour countless money into a loot crate system engineered to capitalise on them. Many other AAA games cost in the region of $100+ for the Season Pass/full games, and to include loot crates in them is nothing short of criminal.
Are loot crates out of control? Yes. The sad fact is that gamers will continue to buy them for the quick fix they give. Loot boxes aren’t going anywhere.