“Loot boxes” you say? Well, you might have heard of them? Because nearly every AAA game arriving this year has them somewhere. I mean, just head to an in-game merchant and boom! Bloody loot boxes all over the place. These little boxes of joy are full to the brim of goodies but with one caveat. So you need to cough up some more cash if you want to open them. In the matter of fact, it’s not just multiplayer games that loot boxes showing up in now either. It’s the single player ones too!

You see, it would appear that in this grand year of 2017, there are quite a few games making use of gambling *cough* I mean loot boxes…And here’s just a small list of those games: “Middle-earth: Shadow of War, “Star Wars Battlefront 2”, “Forza 7”, “Assassin’s Creed Origins”, “Destiny 2, “FIFA 17”, “Call of Duty WW2” (there are a few other games of the kind that got released earlier in the year as well). Anyways, I think you get the idea. That’s also why I think it’s safe to say that the publishers for the said games certainly want to make sure they damn well get their Christmas bonus this year.

You know, if there’s one thing I have a problem with regarding loot boxes in video games, it’s the fact that it’s basically gambling. So no matter how you want to dress it up, it’s gambling. In other words, you’re paying for something that you have no idea as to what you’re going to get. While you might be guaranteed to earn something each time, you will eventually see duplicates or other pointless crap while you go about your quest for the best items or skins.

Blizzard’s “Overwatch” is a perfect example of this, while yes “it’s all cosmetic” and doesn’t affect “gameplay”, the amount of useless crap you earn is insane. It makes the painstaking grind to earn a box in normal play feel like a bloody waste of time, which of course then acts as a lure for you to then spend real cash to get the items you want, that is of course if you’re lucky enough. However, you might be resistant to this like many are, but there’s still a great deal of people paying out extra money for these loot boxes, so why would that be?

Right off the bat, there’s the problem of addiction and in my opinion, when it comes to loot boxes, they are no different to slotting away 50ps in a slot machine. It’s well known that gambling releases the feel-good endorphin “dopamine” where the brain becomes conditioned into wanting more and more to trigger its reward system bringing in that feel-good factor, so the better the loot, the more likely you’ll buy another box. I even know personal friends of mine that have spent £100 plus on FIFA points just to buy “Ultimate Team” packs, desperate for building the best squad possible. For some, the lure can be too much, there are solid similarities to conventional gambling and the fact this is slowly infecting video games like a virus is not good.

There’s also the argument on how Microtransactions effect the game itself. For the likes of “Shadow of War”, it appears as if they become a more viable option over the tedious slog you will have to go through to build your army in the fourth act. This could add another 40 to 50 hours of gameplay, and to top it off, the true ending can only be unlocked this way.

Truth be told, they simply exist to speed up the process, and by then it’s possible you’ve become slightly addicted to opening the boxes with the in-game currency you’ve earned for free. Leading you to say the words “Well, it’s only £5, and I am enjoying the game, but it’s 1am, and I have work in the morning. So I’ll just get a couple” for some it might stop there, for others it doesn’t.

The developers themselves also make some poor excuses for them, especially in the recent Eurogamer interview with a “Shadow of War” lead designer who talked about microtransactions as an “easy mode” (what a surprise) and a quality of life change for those who don’t have the time to put double figure hours into video games. Which is interesting because “Shadow of Mordor” wasn’t a brutally difficult game and despite gamers not having enough time, quite a few got its platinum trophy (I got it twice on normal and GOTY) and that was without a loot box in sight. The easy mode excuse, well, that boils over to the “are games inclusive” argument, and I knew it wouldn’t be too long until you could pay to make a game easier.

fifa pack openings

This is most likely what you’re going to see if you type in “EPIC FIFA pack opening” into the search box…And that would include young lads squandering money for Youtube videos.

Now if I’m to ask myself a difficult question it would be “are there any pro’s to having a lot of loot boxes in a game?”. Well, I guess it’s fun in a way to receive spontaneous rewards. Games like “Plants Vs Zombies” did it a fair job of keeping rewards coming without the need to shell out with real cash and filling out an in-game sticker album can be quite entertaining, but this is only down to the balance of play and reward if that’s not balanced, then well, perhaps the negatives outweigh the pros. The only other way to fix the issue is to vote with your wallets, but it might not be as simple as that.

Furthermore, there seems to be an odd infatuation with Loot boxes. Especially on YouTube, where you can find entire videos of people showing you what they spent their money on and then becoming ecstatically excited. Some of them can be ten minutes long as they open box after box getting various items, and after that ten minutes is up. You almost forget they just spent £100. To think, after watching several videos nearly £1000 has been spent on digital data that will likely be discarded the following year.

While of course I have no quarrel with how someone wishes to spend their money, it just shows that the publishers are getting what they want, and it’s free advertising for them. As more money is spent, the more loot boxes we see appearing in games. Voting with wallets might not be the simplest of answers when the activity itself is glorified, whether it’s sponsored or not.

When Loot Boxes start impacting game progression and turning gameplay that should be fun and exciting into a repetitive grind where it hinders progression, it damages the game. Furthermore, the lure of spending real cash is always prevalent. Of course as I sit here typing, it’s easy to say vote with your wallet, despite already paying £40 to £50 for a game…And that’s without thinking about the season pass or individual micro-transactions, but you tend to know what you’re getting into with these things, loot boxes on the other hand, is nothing less than pure gambling.

Sure, while you get something every time, it’s not always what you want, and it’s not always useful. However, it will always encourage you to re-roll the dice for a better chance for a legendary or exotic item. Oh, but wait, you’ve ran out of in-game currency, and you need to beat this last boss before you head off to bed. So if only there was a way to get some extra Orcs and powerful weapons in a very short amount of time. Well, you’ve just got paid, so £5 won’t hurt…

And with that said, what’s your take on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!

Robin Ek – Editor and co-writer.

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This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.

tgg author avatar Sharn Daniels uk
Sharn Daniels
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @SharnOfTheDEAD

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18 Comments ON " Gamers are finally starting to get fed up with gam... "
  • SevTheBear

    What EA does with SWBF2 is just disgusting. It’s pure freaking gambling and they know it. Mark my words, the ESRB are in bed with big companies like EA. It’s gambling like this that makes me avoid most F2P games in the first place. Now we have it in 60$ (or euro) games and you know what the sad part is? It wouldn’t help increasing the base price on the games. They would still tell you that the games are so expensive so they have to do it. This is pure greed.

    Right now you are better of buying indie games at 20-30$. Sure most of them are not in the top in the graphic department, but at least they are GAMES. Hell if you can part ways with 45 euros and love RPGs you can get *Divinity Original Sin 2* that gives you 60+ hours of gameplay, co-op with op to 4 friends, Game Master mode and steam workshop.

    There is A TON of small good games out there that deserves you money way more than this big assholes companies that gladly will rip every penny out of your wallet.

  • Chris Taylor

    In the eyes of the law it’s not recognised as gambling if they provide an alternative way of opening the box without paying (e.g. grind to get in-game credits to buy loot box). It’s the same concept of how Walkers can offer prizes when you purchase a bag of crisps – you’ll find small print on the pack that says “no purchase necessary” and you can send your details off to be entered. Addiction is a good point though, there should be a way to turn the option off so you can block your access to them as you can with gambling sites.

    • Sharn Daniels

      If you take a game like Overwatch you need to invest a good portion of your life to earn the loot boxes naturally, the paid service exists as a lure, turning gameplay into grind ruins the fun. Sure you get something every time like ESRB says but a lot of that is bloat, useless junk. Access blocks maybe needed or done in a way where play and reward is balanced which invalidate ls the need for more money.

    • Steve

      It’s not considered gambling (more likely closer to a lottery) if there’s a method that doesn’t require consideration – which is defined to include time, effort, or money.

  • SnapperTrx

    Holy hell this makes me wish for the days of my unconnected SNES or PS1. I understand game developers need to make money, but this just seems like a sign of ethical practices being tossed by the wayside in the name of profit. Yeah, no one NEEDS to buy any of these loot boxes, but its always going to be a temptation for the average person. And now your talking about bilking millions of little kids out of a few dollars here or there for what? For a few extra colors and skins that should be unlockables for gameplay? And as soon as a company starts to put important gameplay elements behind loot boxes then that’s the beginning of the end. If one company can get away with it then others will follow suit, all in pursuit of that filthy lucre! And, yeah, who wants to shell out 60$ for a game only to shell out two/three times that amount over the lifetime on garbage?

    Game companies don’t seem interested in making A+ titles so much as A+ titles that will milk customers for the longest time possible. As long as gamers put up with it they will continue to do it.

  • Death5talker45

    I refuse to purchase any loot boxes or Play to Win Items…. I will not buy SWBF2 until the price drops way down just to play the Single Player campaign, I will not play multiplayer games with pay to win… The only game I am interested in that is multiplayer is Elder Scrolls Onling

    • I have a feeling that things will become a lot worse before it gets better…

  • Ken31

    Won’t by any game with this mechanic or Denuvo.

    • Same here. I also fear that more studious and publishers will walk down this path. So it’s time for us to vote with our wallets.

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