Loot boxes: Is it the hot new way to Abuse players via DLC?
A recent trend I have been seeing in games more and more are loot boxes. If you do not know what they are, it is basically a booster pack from a Collectable Card Game. Random stuff for the game that might contain something good. Of course, it might have crud in it. Also, just like card packs, there are the chase items. Those oh so hard to come by items that people buy 100s of boxes for in the hopes of getting one. Overwatch. Destiny, Gears of War 4 and now Heroes of the Storm are all games I play regularly recently that have this. Heck, Hearthstone game packs are the same thing, and the game is totally funded by them.
Now I do not have a problem in theory with loot boxes, but it seems like most games are not “doing it right”. But James, in your “Infinite Wisdom™”, what is the right way to do it? Well, it appears that blizzard is doing it mostly correct. My most favorable view of loot boxes is as follows. Have all the items that you could get in a loot box be available for real money, and have the random loot boxes be acquired through in game currencies or activities. Don’t be too stingy with the boxes, and don’t set the chance for a good item to high, and keep the prices of direct buy reasonable. Also, none of the items should be game changing. No secret weapons pay to win or anything like that. There is some vagueness in it I know, but each game kind of needs to feel out how high is too high and how rare is too rare for itself based on the game, community and how often the in game boxes are earned.
Unfortunately, Destiny, one of my most favorite games that I have put hundreds and hundreds of hours in, is one of the worst on this. Most of the items are only available in these loot boxes, and you must use real money or get the trickle of 3 or so boxes per week. Yes, none of the items are game changing, and that is fine but the low amount able to be gained in game, and the fact that there is no real option to buy what you want.
Yes, they do allow you to kill items you do not want to an alternate currency and that is nice. But it takes a lot of crap/duplicates to make a good item still.
Long and short of it, while most loot boxes are not quite as bad as some DLC things out there(looking at you horse armor), it could be and should be handled better.
Image Credits: Blizzard, Bungie