The New 'Need for Speed' Sees a Future Where Loot Boxes Are in Control

In the late hours of the night, as I drift down mountain highways and shift into high gear on Need for Speed: Payback’s straight aways, the controller disappears from my hand. The car and the road and the checkpoints and the other racers do, too. This isn’t unique to Payback; this happens whenever I play even the most average racing games.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Austin walker, saying it how it is.


I always know I’ll enjoy a longer piece with Walker’s byline on it and I haven’t been disappointed today.

I appreciate your criticism of the ‘consumer-first, consumer-only advocacy’ as well as your specificity in that ‘only’ focus. I think there is some merit in a discussion that factors in the consumer, but it cannot be our only lens of discussion. I can’t help but feel a real danger in that attitude unbridled.

Additionally, your second point as you near the conclusion (regarding the refining of the next stage) has occurred to me before and remains something that I come back to. The extent to which we, as cultural participants, play a role in the dialectic of development may be easy to overstate, but it is something I think is interesting. How we assess and discuss issues does play a role in shaping how items like this are understood by developers. We help build the lootbox of tomorrow by looking at the flaws in the work-in-progress we see before us. The developer’s chisel is informed by the commentary of the critic on their previous work.


it’s really weird how there’s now a pattern of a new income path being popularized in F2P games, that income path slowly creeping into paid games, and then a bunch of EA games all suddenly becoming so bluntly cynical with that income path that people start to consciously hate it.

like, honestly. a luck-based system that you use for another luck-based system that you then use for effectively-temporary parts to throw out soon after. that’s… not going to cause complacency in most people.

i’m glad the conversation of gambling hooks in games is finally a thing people are all talking about, but i remember folks being dismissed whenever it was brought up before recently (and/or pro consumer dudes usually missing the point, because they thought the problem was F2P mechanics being in paid games). i wonder how long it would have taken if some EA executive somewhere was taught how to handle those mechanics with subtlety

Great article! Really disappointing for me because there’s this huge void of fun racing games in my heart right now. The NFS (2015) title said and tried all of the right things, but I found the driving was very unengaging and the police chases to be so short that they were impossible to enjoy. I was hopeful that this game would improve on that front. Unfortunately, the progression mechanics in Payback look to be too large of a hurdle for me to look past. Far from anger though, it just makes me sad.

On a larger view of how MTX affect a game’s economy, there are larger discussions that we need to have. Are lootboxes predatory on those with addictive personalities/gambling tendencies? Are they purely an attempt to siphon cash out of gamers or is there an issue with the price point of games that lootboxes is trying to bridge?

There’s a lot to talk about. I find it rare that a lootbox improves my experience in a game. However, I also see an issue where inflation causes the cost game development to rise and the seeming inability of the price of video games to rise with it. Would an $80 game prevent lootboxes from being implemented? Maybe, but I can certainly see a world where the prices go up and lootboxes remain.

It really seems to me that the entire loot-box trend essentially exists on the hopes that a US Attorney doesn’t just up and decide to go after them under the UIGEA.


I wonder how many of the people who put $10,000 into these systems are based in the US and if EA would just move to Canada and just not have the lootboxes in the US version

More like Need for Speed: PAYCHECK.


This is a point that I just can’t really get on board with. While I get the cynicism that erupts as soon as real money is introduced, lootboxes on their own are essentially RPG-style treasure chests that are now in my multiplayer game. And that can feel really exciting and awesome, just like how CoD4 inserted meaningful leveling and changed the online MP shooter space forever. Just like how it was exciting to fill that XP meter and hear that guitar riff, I think it’s exciting earning enough credits to open another treasure chest in between matches. I think it’s fun when my unlocks aren’t scripted, and sometimes push me toward a different role than I’d normally play because I suddenly have a rare and powerful item for that class.

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Just listened to the podcast that contained this article. I was already aware of the slot machine grossness from the GB quick look, but a more in depth analysis is really food for thought.
Speaking of the loot box future, guess what happens when you use an amibo in Skyrim? Random loot boxes, baby! One just pops out of the ether. You can fill an npcs house with loot boxes. How do you like that, random fishmonger. Welcome to the future.

That’s a really good point that I hadn’t considered!

Finally ALL EA customers can know the pain of FIFA fans.

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