It’s one of gaming’s most harmful scandals, and it’s been changed because of the massive public outcry: Loot Boxes. While this scandal was mostly part of 2017 and early 2018, the aftermath still rocks the gaming world and leaves a lot of questions about the future that need to be answered.
For those non-gamers, think of loot boxes like a box of filled chocolates. No one knows what they will get. However, instead of paying $20 dollars for a few bad tasting chocolates in an otherwise good box, gamers got the opposite.
Loot boxes have been around for a long time, but could mostly be bought through easily obtainable in-game currency, and they often contained cosmetic items such as new pets or armor skins. Some higher level ones had actual gear, but other than that they didn’t serve many purposes unless players simply wanted to spend the currency.
However, in 2017, gaming companies started to drastically reduce the drop rates of in-game currency and revamped loot boxes to actually contain weapons, powered items, and even experience points. No longer where these optional goodies to buy with in-game money, they had become something much worse.
2018’s loot box scandal
With games like EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2, Call of Duty, and Battlefield all using loot boxes as essentially pay to win tools, the reaction was swift from the player base. Players were forced to grind through a large number of missions to even get the in-game currency to use one, while wealthier players could simply buy batches for real-world money.
Then the wealthier players could easily overpower the non-buying players with their new and powerful weapons and gear, making buying loot boxes and lots of them the only way to survive in multiplayer matches. This created a massive outcry of disparity among gamers, who eventually caused the loot boxes to be scaled down or removed from future games.
The damage to several game companies has already been done, and the trust of big gaming companies has been shattered. However, many countries see buying loot boxes, which many players still feel they have to do, as a precursor to gambling, and are even questioning the legality of microtransactions as a whole.
What comes next?
Games have to make money for their creators and employers, no one is arguing that at all. However, the loot box scandal was the wrong way to do it. There is no sign of microtransactions going away, so it makes this gamer wonder if something even more consumer unfriendly is around the corner.
Big gaming companies have a long way to go to earn back the trust of consumers, and using consumer-friendly policies, releasing good quality games and DLC, and providing open and honest communication with fans proves that the fans are more than willing to pay the prices.
There are a plethora of gaming companies that do those three things, and they are both raking in money and have a loyal following. However, others don’t see it that way, and the aftermath of loot boxes might be even worse than the scandal itself.