I’ve been listening to Waypoint Radio for about three months now and this is the topic that finally made me open an account. I genuinely enjoy the show and everyone’s oft varied opinions in it, but Rob really just got my ire up something fierce.
I’m someone who now has to keep continually marking games off my wishlist because loot box mechanics are cropping up in them. Hell, AC: Origins was gonna be the first AC game I bought since the Ezio era since so many people have talked about it as a return to form, and I was hyped for that! But if the loot box thing pans out, I’m not getting it. I’m just not.
I also deeply disagree with the idea that cosmetic rewards are so worthless. The example of Overwatch applies especially to me. The game regularly hosts big events in which the entire point is the cosmetics, and when you put so much value on those things, they become real commodities, in my opinion. When you tell players a thing has value and pour so much effort into that thing, saying “oh its just a cosmetic” feels deeply disingenuous to me. We can’t put so much focus on character creation in games then also say the power to control how you look in a game is worthless or tertiary to the experience. The ability to express yourself through your avatar always has worth. We are just seeing a hard monetary price put on that now.
And like, especially since you can get these loot boxes without cash. They are a core part of gameplay. They don’t stop being a core feature when there is also a trumped up alternate, financial means of collecting them that you want to stay. That argument is just a No Sell for me.
And it’s gambling! I think it’s actually really insulting that on one had we say “these are games that stand on their own merits and are good games worth your time” and at the same time diminish the effect these gambling systems have on people! Why have we gotten to a point where we care so damn little about people susceptible to these mechanics? I feel this would not be the case if there was a growing trend in the industry that somehow enabled or encouraged players with other forms of potential addiction to buy alcohol they would not otherwise be in contact with.
Like, if nothing else, can we please kill and bury the idea of “I have more willpower than you, this is your own fault?” 'Cause dang. Uncool.
Even someone’s story in this very thread about how they have gradually increased the amount of money they are willing to spend on loot boxes for an Overwatch event has me worried. I think if the ask is for us to wait around and trust that publishers are not going to abuse this tactic until outside intervention stops them, that is an enormous ask.
I’m not hitting the “bitch” button, I am genuinely worried about what the state of the industry is going to be in the next few years, and this change is becoming more prevalent and more insidious with every wave. I’m really goddamn worried.