Loot Boxes Are Taking a Toll On the Gaming Community


Photo Taken From CGMagazine

Screenshot of a loot box from the critically acclaimed “Overwatch” by Blizzard Entertainment. Loot boxes in “Overwatch” thankfully only contain cosmetic items.

By Drew Winkler, Sage Creek High School

In the early days of video games, it was a simpler time, a time where you would buy a game and the full finished game would come with it virtually bug-free with no future updates and most importantly, no loot boxes. You would have to earn or grind your way to new weapons or cosmetics. Nowadays, loot boxes are everywhere in the gaming world and it’s starting to take a toll on the community of players who have to deal with them every day which is why we should get rid of them.

Now for those who don’t know what loot boxes are in modern games, allow me to explain. Loot boxes are a publisher’s way to monetize their game after the initial purchase of said game by the consumer. These loot boxes typically work by the consumer purchasing a single or pack of boxes from which they can open. Inside these boxes, the player gets three items at random that can consist of cosmetic items such as skins, emotes or voice lines.

However, the problem with loot boxes arises when games include items that give in-game advantages such as better weapons or abilities other than what is given in the base game, introducing a pay to win system within the game, so that the player with the biggest paycheck will win regardless of skill level within the game.

Photo Taken From Reddit User:“u/I_am_a_Failer”
Screenshot of the newly released game “Apex Legends” loot box system that shows users before they buy a loot pack their odds of winning items.

Some developers or supporters of a game would try to justify these loot boxes, saying that it’s only a fraction of what these companies make on a single game. The latest “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” for example, according to Forbes, sold $500 million on its launch weekend, making it the best selling game of 2018. More than enough to keep the servers live. Even games like “Battlefield 5” that sold poorly in 2018 made around $400 Million in total. Keeping these number in mind, it would be sensible to say that these companies don’t need to have microtransactions to keep games running, but what about to free games like the newly released “Apex Legends,” do they need to have loot boxes to be successful?

Well, as much as it pains me to bring up the example of “Fortnite,” it’s inevitable when talking about a subject like this. “Fortnite” has without a doubt shown how successful a free-to-play game can be without any randomized loot boxes by making an estimated 2.4 billion dollars in 2018 alone according to Dexerto. Granted you can buy a plethora of in-game items, however, they aren’t randomized, you know exactly what you are getting when you purchase an item and they give no in-game advantages like they do in games like “Destiny.”

Photo Taken From Gamepedia
Screenshot of the “Fortnite” Season 6 Battle Pass. If you don’t have the time to grind out whatever item you want, you even have the option to buy tiers.

A trend I’ve noticed going on with new games coming out is the uprise of Battle Passes. The Battle Pass is the one thanks I can give “Fortnite” as it made room for another form of monetization that was fair, supported the game and most importantly didn’t make the consumer feel like they were getting ripped off.

The way it works is the player buys said Battle Pass every new season of a game which lasts for around two months. Within this Battle Pass, you get 100 tiers that you can unlock by playing the game and completing challenges, with each tier unlocked, a new item is unlocked and added to your inventory. This system is superior to the loot boxes that are used and it’s cool to see games coming out taking this new route.

While games like “Apex Legends” do have loot boxes, they are improving the system by giving the consumer their chances of winning an item before they purchasing a loot box. They even go as far to guarantee items once you open a certain amount of boxes. Developer Respawn Entertainment has also announced that sometime in the month of March, there will be a Battle Pass implemented into the game along with some guaranteed content regardless if you buy the Battle Pass or not. This is giving players an option to try their luck at winning an item versus grinding it out.

In the end, video game publishers and developers are businesses and businesses exist to make money. While it might suck that loot boxes may never disappear from games completely, all we can do now is support games with monetization that is fair to the consumer and hope that in the future more games will choose different ways to monetize their games.

This story was originally published on The Sage on March 5, 2019.