Loot boxes .. legitimate cash cow or The new scourge ..?

IMHO there may be a use for loot boxes in games that are free to play, but only if said loot boxes are limited to cosmetic changes to the characters.

In any other instances, It’s a way to lock out content from the players that already poured money up front and abuse addictive personalities and buyer’s behaviour.

I personally don’t endorse games made that way, or games made so that the average exacerbated player must give in to them out of frustration.

Watching Jimquisition’s ‘Turning Players Into Payers’ and knowing about Scientific Revenue made my pulse go up. Loot boxes and microtransactions are a f*ckin’ scourge.


It will be interesting to see where things go in the future. It seems like every time in the past 15 years or so that people were worried that the sky was falling, someone took it too far and the backlash effectively killed it.

At the moment, I think the biggest hurdle facing loot boxes becoming mainstream is simple economies of scale. Some games can get away with this because they are absolutely massive and social. Overwatch, PUBG, Rocket League, etc. are all huge games, so the return on investment is going to be high even if only a few dabble into the paid portion of things.

You look at other, less massive games, and you wonder if they’re seeing the same benefits. I can’t imagine Injustice is raking in the cash like Overwatch or PUBG. Shadow of War is probably even less because there’s just no showing off your sweet swag.

I also think to some extent, people who grew up with games kind of need to get past the “you used to just be able to grind this out” mentality. That’s not really a better option. I’m kind of at the point where I’d rather waste my money than my time. I put far too many hours into getting rare trinkets in Final Fantasy 6, leveling up my character to make sure every single party member had every spell and countless hours in the colosseum to get rare drops. Sure I didn’t put in money, but rewarding monotonous repetition is a separate kind of bad.

Literal gambling. There’s no way around it, and I despise any game that uses them. I’m not wild about gacha either for the same reasons. It’s all scummy, predatory trash.


I kind of assumed this wouldn’t solve your issue entirely but thought it should be said since I know that can help me get away from the anxiety of wanting to purchase loot boxes I can’t afford.

It’s a really nice feature I think more games should implement.

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The Gacha Liker Has Logged on

So if you know anything about me outside the forums you know I love a good gacha style blindbox game. I genuinely love to poke around at these games. Even though they’re very similar I love seeing the deviations. Over the past two years and change I would estimate I’ve tried about a hundred and fifty and spent significant money on half a dozen.

I’m providing this as context when I say that I actually think that this style of game is becoming LESS exploitative in the ways it once was on the mobile level. I think that the hard shift to loot boxes on consoles is a direct result of this.

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I just play a whole bunch. It’s pretty much the only time I play Overwatch now. Got the McCree and Torbjorn skins yesterday but I only want Zenyatta and Symemtra (which I probably won’t get heh)

I’m not a fan. I think there’s almost always going to be a better progression/loot getting system for a game than loot boxes, but because loot boxes are the system you can monitize that’s what games are moving towards. You can say Overwatch’s system isn’t bad, but I think it would be much more rewarding if you unlocked costumes and stuff with in game challenges or milestones.

I really worry about the future of this though. We saw the concept of “whales” in mobile games, where a small percentage of users made up the vast majority of sales. Eventually games started becoming catered towards these kind of players because that’s where the money was. This hasn’t quite happened yet in bigger budget games, companies are afraid to rock the boat too soon, but I can see a future where a company decides to design a game to squeeze the most out of that 2% of people while making the game worse for everyone else.

I wonder if allowing to sell or trade items would fix this issue. If I had the Zen skin and wanted the McCree one for an event that is over, I should be able to just trade with you or even sell it to you. This probably comes with it’s own issues as we saw in the PUBG crate/key system from Gamescom.

I think the way they’re currently handled is predatory, as by nature they’re designed in such a way to encourage to you want to buy them and to continue spending on them, however this seems to be the current trend the market has taken, so instead of stomp my feet and wish them away, I’m just going to continue to point to examples of Lootboxes that don’t have a direct impact on the game or enjoyment thereof, like Overwatch or PUBG, where it’s primarily cosmetic (to my knowledge).

Publishers are currently testing lootboxes (much in the way they fiddled with DLC, which resulted in Horse Armor of all things before we slowly went back to a expansion pack method that PC gamers had known for a while, as well as the introduction of season passes) so we’re going to see a lot of gross mishandling of them until someone finds the “happy medium” in which players don’t feel taken advantage of or feel any real need to buy lootboxes, but the option is still appealing to the market who can and will spend their disposable income on them, in a way that still generates the most profit.

It’s one of those, “I’ll allow it, I don’t like it, but I’ll allow it” transitional periods for gaming, and personally, as long as it’s primarily cosmetic only, I have no real issue with this.

Lootboxes in singleplayer games are where things get murky, and I’d much rather western developers took a cue from eastern developers, and would simply sell cosmetic DLC instead, which again, can be largely ignored and will have no significant bearing on the game itself, however it seems companies such as EA have decided to take the approach of simply looking to multiplayer games and other games where they can wedge in lootboxes, and abandon singleplayer games completely… (however I think they mishandle it, as the lootboxes they’ve sold in their titles are commonly gear upgrades and new characters for their multiplayer modes, which I’m guilty of buying myself, but these were also purely co-operative games and you WERE allowed to earn them in-game yourself, so I’m not quite sure how I feel about it at this point.)

Yeah that is some next level shady stuff Jim talked about. Very worrying, I could see it really catching on.

In the meantime, that company is trying to intimidate JIm (Jim shared some of the mails on twitter)

While I’m sure loot boxes, gachapon, and other similar systems have a place somewhere, I do not like the way they are currently being implemented in most cases (that I’ve seen anyway). The lack of transparency is a nightmare, especially from a consumer rights perspective.

As far as I’m concerned the packaging and digital store pages of games should be labeled if the game contains microtransactions, loot boxes, or other such additional costs. Each of these should also be labeled separately, like how things such as violence, “bad language”, and online connectivity are labeled according to PEGI standard over here in Europe. Drop or appearance rates should be listed for each thing you can acquire randomly. Anything less I would consider anti-consumer. The average consumer should be able to buy a game in a store and know what to expect, without having to look things up on the internet.

Speaking as someone that encountered gachapon in F2P MMOs 10 years ago, back when I was 14-15 years old, a lot more should be done to restrict access for minors to this stuff too. The sort of addictive behavior they encourage is not something kids should be exposed to. While people have made the comparison to things like trading cards, when a kid or teen ends up spending a ton of money on those they can always sell their collection if they get in trouble. With an online game that money is gone.

At the end of the day it’s also just poor game design most of the time. Implementing a horrible grind in your game just to coax more money out of the players, instead of being able to design a game with a proper reward structure much suck for the developers that want to make the best game they possibly can.


I think that loot boxes are a form of cheating and a scourge of a cash cow. It’s a very low practice.

That said, I’m fine with them as they’re implemented in games like Forza, where you use in-game currency to purchase boxes that grant you new clothing items, cars and mods. Just not paying real money or using real money to unlock the game.

The mods in Forza were previously just in-game as options you could adjust. They locked them behind loot boxes in 7. So to earn money to get loot boxes, you buy loot boxes to earn money for more loot boxes. It’s pretty gross.

It’s not that big of a deal, though. You earn money through races and also from level rewards (if you choose that over a car or a suit). Never does it ask you to spend real money, or really inhibit play.

I get liking the older system better, but don’t see it as being gross. To each their own, though. It randomizes things, sure, but at least it’s not asking for real money or making things a lot easier for you. The Shadow of War ones are gross, especially since Shadow Wars starts off so difficult. I gave up on the game when I got there, and considered it already beaten.

I generally take a hard line with them, it’s a shitty, manipulative practice. I try and talk friends out of it, but only to a certain degree, because it’s their lives. If they get pleasure from maybe winning a skin for an avatar, why not.
But in the larger sense, it’s unacceptable that scumbags are getting rich off this.

I read yesterday that someone spent $15,000 on Mass Effect 3 multiplayer cards. It’s those people who really make it worthwhile for publishers.

It really depends for me. I don’t mind loot crates when you can win skins or XP boost. Though the XP boost is a worry as a game can be designed to be grindy and force customers to spend money on loot boxes to advance in the game.

I kind of see why developers are doing it, due to the increasing costs of AAA development.

But as someone who play games I’m not fond of them. Whilst I’ve found it easy to just ignore paid lootboxez, I worry about people getting abused by the systems.
E.g. children who don’t have a proper grasp of the value of money or people with additction problems.

I’m at the point where ive reconciled with the way that microtransactions are implemented in games. There will always be someone (like WB) who pushes in envelope in what they can and cannot get away with, but for the most part I thought we had all found a happy medium

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to accept blind boxes as an okay thing. The way they prey on people’s compulsion is disgusting to me