Welcome to a new series that we at Thumb Culture thought would be a nice addition to our content: Thumb Culture Opinions (title still a work in progress). Here we thought rather than just have one of us speak our mind, it would be a nice change of pace to give you readers a better overview of what we think as a collective. We will be taking a topic from gaming news that deserves to be highlighted and then a few of us will get together and give our opinions.
This month’s topic is loot crates….
Over the last few months we have started to see an explosion in terms of Loot crates being included in games to tempt the players into spending even more of their cash on game additions (although not exactly ‘DLC’).
Originally Loot crates were something implemented into Mobile gaming for Free to play games as a way for the developers to make a little money for their time spent creating the content. But as time has moved on other platforms have decided that they want to cash in on it as well.
Prime examples of this are in new and upcoming releases: Middle Earth: Shadow or War, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Assassins Creed Origins. The levels they impact the game vary from game to game but there does seem to be a heavy lean towards it becoming so bad that it would only allow you to get the full enjoyment of the game if you spend the cash on these items (such as blocking the ending of the game unless you use them).
So I tracked down Stuart, Jason, Kevin and Roy and got their opinions and experiences with them.
After speaking with Stuart, here is what he had to say:
“Loot Boxes, they have been around for a long time, but only recently have people started to create a mountain of a relatively small molehill.”
“My thoughts? well, in simplistic terms if what is inside the box is purely aesthetic then I have no issues with them being in the game, but when it comes to purchasing items that give you an unfair advantage over those that don’t purchase, this is where I draw the line.”
“I much prefer to earn loot boxes in games then to purchase them using my hard earned cash.”
“I know gaming is now a cash game, where people are rewarded for putting more money into the game, and I have been suckered into doing just that in the past, but it’s becoming far more of an epidemic than it has been in recent years. I just hope that it doesn’t get to the point where you buy a game and then to get a particular ending of a game you have to purchase a loot box as an additional cost….oops.”
I agree with Stuart here in terms of as long as Loot crates only offer aesthetic improvements or customizations that don’t impact the actual gameplay then it’s fine, or making the Loot Crates something that can be earned in game (without the need to spend weeks grinding to obtain an apple). We also seem to agree that the way the business is heading with the surge of them is concerning to say the least.
After having this conversation, I mentioned the topic to a work colleague of mine who, while he appreciated that we were ok as long as it had no bearing on the actual game, gave me a rather amusing real life comparison which I couldn’t resist including here (Thanks Colin!)
“Imagine if you took loot crates and applied them to another field, such as the NHS. Yes you can have this life saving operation, but I need to inform you that if you want to have an anaesthetic or any kind of pain relief then you will need to purchase this loot crate separately. There would be an uproar, but it’s the same principle. It doesn’t have any impact on the efficiency of the operation or the functionality of the person’s body. It just makes it easier to deal with”
Just imagine if you opened said loot crate and instead of the pain relieving drugs you obtained a nice pair of slippers, or a bath robe… Couldn’t help but think that’s a rather funny (if not also alarming) analogy.
When I tracked down Roy he didn’t hold back in his distain for them. His comments reminded me of Dante’s inferno. Here’s what he had to say:
“Loot boxes are the evil of all evils. There are two versions of hell. The first is cosmetic changes that should be available through in-game currency only. To often I’ve known people to spend hundreds of pounds on nothingness.”
“The second evil is one that even grabbed me to the tune of around £400 in a month an a half. That was in the flavour of pay to win. Bulk buying loot boxes hoping for that weapon or armour that would make you feel like you had godlike powers. Only to find out it’s much the same as you already had or duplicates after duplicates. Loot boxes are a terrible shameless way for companies to harvest your hard earned money and bleed you dry. They are very addictive and shouldn’t be allowed.”
I think maybe I touched a nerve here and had caught him after reviewing his ‘favourite’ game (Maize!). But I do see Roy’s point here, it doesn’t seem to matter how you look at loot crates, its still very much just a cash grabbing exercise where the Dev’s have thought up content to improve the gaming experience and then held it back to entice you into paying extra for it.
When I caught up with Jason he seemed to be a little more positive and in agreement with Stuart (although i do think once his children have spent a penny or two on them this may change).
“As games have evolved the mechanic that is in-game microtransactions has become more and more prolific and as a father to 3 gamer children this has the ability to affect my wallet at times. Although purely optional to purchase, the attraction for a new in-game item be it cosmetic or influential can ride high, plants vs zombies garden warfare 2 being an example.”
“I sit on the fence with them. If I have bought a full price game such as destiny 2 then I expect to be able to progress without the need of purchaseable loot crates and other microtransactions. If the game is low in price, take rocket league for example but relies on microtransactions for competition prizes and free dlc then I can understand the necessity, although once more purely optional.”
“So long as there is not a huge gaming advantage then I don’t have a problem with them. In some ways i see the whole game mechanic as a form of gambling as you are pouring money into a system that will give you a reward of some type, feeding your gaming desire. I guess the fact that you are putting money in and always getting something out muddys the water somewhat when it comes to gambling law.”
Something here that Jason touched on which could open a huge can of worms is gambling law. The UK Government has already been called in to discuss these items with them being tagged as ‘legalised gambling for children’ due to them costing money on the gamble that you get something good (bit like a lottery ticket).
Needless to say the Governments stance was very non-commital (of course they will getting their own fair share in taxes so what do they care?). I can however see the point and in a way i suppose they could be just as addictive as scratch cards.
While I didn’t get chance to catch up with Ben, I know this is a topic he has already given his opinion on. (check out his youtube video here).
When i managed to track down Kevin to get his opinion, he came at it from a different perspective which I hadn’t really considered (probably because i was in full on rant mode at the time). This is what he had to say…
“Something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. If gamers are going to be paying money to improve their gaming experience, then why shouldn’t they? I have played enough Tycoon based games to know that the aim is to make as much money as possible. Surely putting money into the hands of the game developers is a good thing, games that we all love will be produced more often. Surely this is a good thing for the consumer? Surely in life the rich have the expensive cars, the houses with pools, the private helicopters, so why should the virtual world be any different? If the rich can afford to gain the upper hand then that’s just gaming imitating life. Should loot crates be required to have a complete gaming experience? Well the answer to that is a resounding no. Build a good game and then improve on it with loot crates, don’t make them a requirement.”
I suppose the sceptic in me finds this idea a little hard to believe, that the money from loot crates would be put back into the games and making more enjoyable games more often. In my mind I just see some Ebenezer Scrooge type sitting counting his gold coins, happy to sit back and just milk it for all its worth.
As you can see loot crates in general throw up a multitude of angles and opinions from people who are all for paying that little bit extra for something nice to those who think they are the devil incarnate.
Personally I sit somewhere in the middle and think that on free to play games they are acceptable (within reason) but really they have no place in premium AAA titles that are already £50+, especially when you consider that on top of that £50 is the season pass for all the DLC as well.
To any Developers considering using loot crates… please take heed of the words and comments above. We all like nice new content and things to improve our overall experience but don’t treat us like cattle!
I hope you enjoyed getting the opinions of a few of the team here, hopefully it will be something we can do more of in the future.
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