Loot boxes: Future of AAA or a monetisation misfire?

Developers discuss the reasoning behind the recent rise of microtransactions in full-price games

The loot box debate rages on, but very few members of the industry have joined in the discussion.

As games sites become awash with reports and opinion pieces on each blockbuster's new monetisation system, picking apart the model with which publishers are attempting to retain and monetise players through this Q4's biggest releases, the consensus seems to be that loot boxes are another attempt to nickel and dime the unassuming consumer.

Attempts to sell in-game items through full-price titles such as Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Forza Motorsport 7 and Destiny 2 have triggered discussions as to whether AAA gaming has become akin to gambling, and driven thousands of people to sign government petitions as they demand that action be taken.

"Development costs of AAA titles are five to ten times the price they were in the '90s. But sales and prices have remained pretty static"

Anonymous studio director

While ratings boards have agreed the use of loot boxes does not technically class as gambling, it's easy to understand the upset that surrounds them. Having already paid $60/£60 for a AAA title, consumers are indignant at the idea of having to spend more money in order to fully enjoy their purchase. Implementation varies between each game, with some examples - such as the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta's implication that multiplayer progression will be locked behind loot boxes - prompting more ire than others.

Getting an official response as to why these systems are becoming more prevalent is nigh on impossible - received a polite 'no comment' from Activision, Warner Bros, Microsoft, Electronic Arts and several other publishers we asked to weigh in on the subject - but those who do point the finger of blame squarely in one direction: the rising costs of both development and marketing.

This is something we already discussed at length last week, and it seems to ring true for developers across the industry. In the case of Battlefront, this has dramatically increased since EA decided to forego the usual Season Pass model and provide maps and extra content for free, but it still needs to fund development.

But according to one studio director - who wished to remain anonymous - it's not just that costs are increasing, but that the disparity between how much publishers are charging and what consumers are spending is also growing.

"Development costs of AAA titles are five to ten times the price they were in the '90s," the person told us. "As technology moves forward, costs go up and teams get larger. Salaries also go up in that time both for starters and people employed for those periods of time.

"But sales and prices have remained pretty static - especially given the 'sale culture' nowadays."


Ben Cousins, The Outsiders

Ben Cousins, CEO of The Outsiders and a former EA and DICE exec, agrees: "The number of full-priced games console gamers are buying a year is dropping and the cost of developing games is increasing, while the actual audience for console games remains static. They need to find ways for full-priced games to continue to be profitable. Big publishers have been working on plans like this for over a decade."

In recent weeks, UK sales of Shadow of War, Destiny 2, FIFA 18, Forza 7 and The Evil Within 2 are all trending below their predecessors, and this is likely to be the case in other markets. Digital downloads may be making up for some of that shortfall, but not all of it - and there's certainly no sign of significant growth in terms of audience'.

Meanwhile the 'sale culture' is also likely to be impacting revenues. Last year's Black Friday promotions saw sales of recent releases soar once available for £30 or less, many of which had been at full price just a few weeks before - and no doubt this will be repeated with this year's Q4 hits next month.

Jason Kingsley, co-founder and CEO of Rebellion, emphasises that loot boxes don't even need to convert every player into a payer in order to help offset those costs.

"Some big games are just not selling enough copies to make the development and marketing costs viable," he says. "Loot boxes mean more revenue from those who are interested.

"[Player expectations] that each game gets bigger, better and looks more modern... means it is likely going to cost more to make"

Jeff Pobst, Hidden Path

"For the biggest games that are made by thousands of staff, then yes the simple boxed copy sales may not be enough to make the economics work."

Larger teams and more advanced technology aren't the only things driving this increase. Hidden Path's Jeff Pobst, who previously discussed this subject with us, says the audience has contributed to escalating costs.

"What players may not realise is their expectation that each game in a series gets bigger and better and has more content and looks more modern than before... means it is likely going to cost more to make. The creators are going to want to find a way to cover those new costs as well."

Then there are the sales expectations of the publishers bringing each game to market. Just yesterday, in the wake of Visceral Games' closure, former Dead Space level designer Zach Wilson tweeted that the second game in the series cost $60 million to make, and another $60 million to market. The title sold a seemingly respectable 4 million copies, but Wilson reports that "wasn't enough."

Again, this emphasises the damage the aforementioned 'sales culture' can have; if all 4 million copies had sold at the full price of $60, EA would have received $240 million. While this may seem to be double the combined marketing and development cost, once you take into account the retailer's share, distribution and manufacturing costs, plus tax, the publisher's share actually diminishes (In the comments below, analyst Nicholas Lovell estimates closer to $150m than $240m). The lower the sales price, thanks to promotional discounts and so forth, the lower the publisher's take.

Shadow of War's loot boxes courted controversy, but the developer assures that they are entirely optional and the game is balanced for non-spending players

Shadow of War's loot boxes courted controversy, but the developer assures that they are entirely optional and the game is balanced for non-spending players

Still, the dominant element of the loot box debate seems to be the consumer outrage and the notion that greedy publishers are simply trying to extract every last penny from customers already paying for their products. Naturally the most extreme reactions are amplified by social media, but are they in fact the minority? Does the very presence of microtransactions in full-price games really affect that many people, especially when so many publishers stress that they are optional?

"I don't know the numbers, but my experience tells me this is probably the case," says Cousins.

"Until we have hard data that the presence of loot boxes in a given title is negatively affecting sales and profitability, we should not worry about messaging issues"

Ben Cousins, The Outsiders

He continues: "Until we have hard data that the presence of loot boxes in a given title is negatively affecting sales and profitability, rather than just being a thing people talk about on the internet, we should not worry about messaging issues."

Kingsley adds: "That's hard to quantify but it's clearly an issue as it's getting coverage. Whether it's an issue for most or even the majority is not as relevant as it being a big issue for some I suppose.

"The reactions to them seem to be based largely on how they are handled and whether the contents are game changing or just cosmetic."

Pobst suggests that the source of the anger is not, in fact, the transactions themselves. Instead, it stems from the changing perception of the game: initially purchased as a piece of entertainment, but starkly highlighted as a commercial product by the immersion-breaking call to spend real-world money.

"Personally, I'm not sure that individual game mechanics or features such as loot boxes are themselves the driving issue for players when you see outcry or concern about the fairness of a game, its feature set, or its monetisation," Pobst explains. "Typically if you go looking, one can find examples of where those same features or mechanics are used in other games and the players there are happy and enjoying themselves. 

"Regardless of development costs, developers and publishers are going to attempt to make money - it's a business"

Niles Sankey, former Bungie developer

"I think the underlying issue is really about the relationship between the product and the players, and how the expectations are set by the people making and marketing the product: the "promise" to the player by the product, as Gearbox President Randy Pitchford likes to say."

The problem most often comes, Pobst posits, when firms add monetisation mechanics to a title or series where they were previously absent. Certainly this was the case with Bungie's Destiny 2 - the earliest example in the recent wave of microtransaction controversies - where shaders that were previously reusable became one-time consumables, with the game offering to sell more to players in exchange for real money.

"Sometimes publishers and developers don't recognise that changing the monetisation can be a more significant impact in changing the promise of the game to the player than they may expect," Pobst continues. "The gameplay and content promises are still there, but the monetisation part of the promise has changed in that case. And depending on the game and the monetisation changes, players may or may not feel like the promise they are excited about is being maintained."

The proposed system seen in Star Wars Battlefront 2's multiplayer beta was labelled 'pay-to-win' as purchasing more loot crates increased player advantages

The proposed system seen in Star Wars Battlefront 2's multiplayer beta was labelled 'pay-to-win' as purchasing more loot crates increased player advantages

Equally, some consumers seem to have an entirely different view on how the relationship between themselves and the publisher or developer works. Fundamentally they seem to forget that while games are indeed provided as both art and entertainment, they are also commercial products and subject to inherent pressures.

"Regardless of development costs, developers and publishers are going to attempt to make money - it's a business," says Niles Sankey, developer of first-person psychological thriller Asemblance. Sankey previously spent ten years working at Bungie on both Halo and Destiny, although he stresses that he was not involved in monetisation.


Jason Kingsley

"Developers have retirement to save for and families to feed... If people don't like loot crates and microtransactions, they shouldn't support the game by purchasing them. And I'd suggest not buying games made by companies that have previously demonstrated insincere business practices.

"I stopped developing investment heavy games and I no longer play them. In my opinion, there are better ways to spend your time and life. There are so many great non-addictive/investment games to play.. and there's so much more to life than video games."

This is also a message that sometimes gets lost in the outrage: in most cases, microtransactions in full-price games are entirely optional. Following the initial outburst, Shadow of War design director Bob Roberts told our sister site Eurogamer that the team had developed the entire game without the loot boxes activated in order to ensure balance.

Our anonymous developer has no qualms declaring that he has spent money on such items, adding: "It's normally to accelerate my progress. I don't have as much time to play now as I did 20 years ago."

"For the biggest games that are made by thousands of staff, the simple boxed copy sales may not be enough to make the economics work"

Jason Kingsley, Rebellion

Emphasising that loot boxes are optional seem to do little to assuage consumer concerns. Common arguments range from accusations that developers have slowed normal in-game progress in order to sell boosters, or that the very presence of microtransactions psychologically draws players into what Cousins refers to as the "compulsion loop".

There is also an inconsistency to player reactions, albeit driven by the different implementations of monetisation. For all the flack Electronic Arts has received over the proposed monetisation system shown in the Battlefront 2 beta, it still generates $800 million per year with FIFA's Ultimate Team mode - a prime example of successfully monetising a full-price game in the long term.

Similarly, while Shadow of War and Forza 7 have been virtually crucified on Twitter, titles such as Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch escape unscathed, despite the presence of loot boxes - although Cousins says, "Blizzard get a free pass on pretty much everything, as do Valve. Never try to get learnings from them, as they are outliers."

The consumer reaction (particularly in the run-up to launch) has the potential to be highly damaging, further preventing publishers from recouping costs and exploring new methods of monetisation. Our anonymous developer pointed to one particular practice that has hindered the debate around loot boxes.

"Review bombing exaggerates issues and causes damage to everyone," they say. "Which is why most won't talk about it as they don't want to be targeted unfairly next."

And, ultimately, such tactics are a fruitless endeavour. Despite the controversy around recent titles and their microtransactions, publishers will inevitably continue to experiment with new business models. Especially as a recent report proves that games-as-a-service systems have tripled the industry's value.

Just today, Activision was granted a patent for a matchmaking system designed to encourage more consumer spending; a system the publisher stressed has not been implemented in any game, but is something it may well consider in future. And experimentation is fine - it's essential the evolution of any industry - but as our own Rob Fahey warns, publishers need to be careful to cross the line, no matter how poorly defined that line may be.

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Latest comments (18)

Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes4 years ago
The root cause of this does go back a decade as Ben alludes to. It started with the disintegration of the sales tail thanks to Gamestop and co churning used gmes over new. Ever since the industry has sort lost revenue, first it was online passes, then season passes, DLC, the ceasing of development of single player focused games (without months of content), the shift to multiplayer focused everything to ensure the player holds onto the disc. Add in rising costs, static audience size, the need to keep a game alive for 1-3 years post launch - all these things cost money and need to be funded. Fewer and fewer games taking more and more of a persons time, you need to extract far more than $60 to make thar business work.
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George Williams Owner 4 years ago
Some of the responses from devs worries me. The 'well don't buy it attitude' stinks. Clearly players have no problem in paying for loot boxes if the game is good, well supported long term and not a yearly cash grab - let me point to Overwatch.

The line gets crossed when you lock progression behind them - that is pay to win. If Blizzard can manage to support a highly popular game, with just cosmetic loot crates, there's no reason why other developers shouldn't be able to either, without heading down the pay to win route.

As with the mobile market, where the bigger players just abused the rules until they were tightened - the same will probably fall foul of mainstream. That will be a sad day.
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Christopher Dring Publisher, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
@Richard Browne: There was a stat a few years back from GAME, where more than 90% of trade-ins were used against the sale of further games. I'm just not convinced the explosion in 'used' games was as harmful as many like to believe. Certainly, it crippled back catalogue (and now with digital, there's a chance to fight back against that), but in terms of the overall health of the industry, that pre-owned revenue was mostly just being reinvested in the industry.
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Show all comments (18)
Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief4 years ago
You've made a flawed assumption in your maths of how much EA would make at full price. Close to half the retail price disappears in retail margin, tax (depending on the territory), distribution costs and manufacturing. It wouldn't be a surprise if from 4m units at $60, EA received closer to $150m than $240m.
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Taylan Kay Game Designer / Programmer / Marketer 4 years ago
I wonder how much of this problem is also attributable to the "X hours of gameplay" expectation. Most people don't actually finish the games they paid for (, and yet they pay for the cost of producing all the extra content that they never get to see. The extra content in these cases rarely mean new gameplay mechanics, but usually manifests as new environment art, new textures on old NPC models, new voice-overs for new quests asking players to do what they were doing ten hours ago but in that new environment and with those reskinned NPCs this time, etc.

So my humble opinion is that most AAA games are way too over-bloated with non-value-added content that drives up the cost and prices of games too much. Convincing the audience that what they really want is not "X hours of content" but "X/4 hours of kick-ass fun" is the goal to pursue, I think. Which is easier said than done, I know.

As for multiplayer games, what should be obvious by now is that the most crucial way to generate value is not to pump out one huge map after another, but to build a community and enable social cohesion. PUBG has a single map to date, LoL relied on Summoner's Rift for ages, and, yes, Overwatch has a multitude of maps but they serve to reinforce the game's meta and teamwork dynamics rather than being throwaway audio-visual spectacles. Compare that to the trajectory of Battlefield and Battlefront games, where EA has gone all guns blazing on the spectacle front and downhill on community and gameplay.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Taylan Kay on 18th October 2017 5:31pm

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James Batchelor UK Editor, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
@Nicholas Lovell: Thanks Nicholas, will amend immediately.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
It is a bit paradoxical to read an article in which developers first put more content on a disk to prevent people from selling it and were then willing to let the player forego that progression in exchange for money. What could ever go wrong, right?

The patent Activision got, is describing a concept from educational sciences, so good luck defending a patent copied over from a scientific publication. The German word is Entwicklungssog, don't know the English term (development pull?). Considering most rating boards take pride in concerning themselves with judging how certain games do or do not affect the development of young people, such a patent is moronic to put it mildly. Except you do want that AO rating on every game where the patent is printed on the box. We do affect the development of your child in the interest of increased revenue, may we have the PG rating? Errr, no.

The probably biggest challenge to AAA games remains unmentioned, the genre "all of your time games". Titles which want all your video gaming time for the next few years. For all the marketing wars between AAA titles, they remain compatible to each other. First you play one title for a month or so, then the game is over and you can play the competitor, or some other new AAA game. For example, Horizon Zero Dawn and Breath of the Wild, AAA secret power:: you can have both. That is not how the big boys operate these days. You grind that one game for 1000h this year and no other game.

At the point where the enjoyability of the gameplay of AAA games has a hard time competing with indie games you buy like pints in a pub, further discussions about the actual extend of the AAA crisis are moot. The crisis in the literal sense of the word is already over, AAA lost.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
the bigger lie that people like telling themselves is that game content is cut so that I can be resold is the dLC. Instead, of course the DLC is sold to pay for the development of that cut content. Of course, I guess asking their players increase their standards, and look for games of complex narratives over disposable five minute experiences that keep your hands busy while you chat with your friends is really too much to ask isn’t it? :-)
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Mark Jacobs President & Co-Founder, City State Entertainment4 years ago
Just a few quick bits:

1) As both a developer and gamer, I hate paid loot boxes with a passion, but I understand why publishers/developers are using them (though I don't) in their games.

2) A gentle note to James and Nicolas, you're both forgetting to factor in one of the most important changes to the game industry in the past decade, which is the rise of digital distribution. Whether it's Origin, Steam, etc., publishers are keeping a higher percentage of the retail price of a game than ever before. In the case of EA, it is selling their games through Origin as well as retail. The revenue generated via digital distribution, especially at full price, is a big boost to their bottom line. Even with Steam's 30% cut, folks who self-publish/distribute on Steam can keep even more than they used to because an indie developer, almost always had to go through a distributor to get into retail and that wasn't easy (depending on when in the industry you are talking about).

3) The retail tail is not what it was in the past but, in truth, publishers used to get screwed by some/most/all of the chain stores in the past with unsold games being returned and credits being issued to retailers. OTOH, the digital distribution of their games can continue indefinitely at a pretty insignificant cost. And while returns/bad debt are still issues, the tail can continue to wag the dog quite happily for a long time.

Personally, I think that the publishers should raise the prices of their games and then eliminate the worst of the RMT stuff. Games are costing more than ever before and if you look at the historical cost of games, it has not increased to match inflation. Raise the prices (while adding more content that would have gone into DLC/RMT) and deal with the fallout. At least that way developers/designers can focus on making great games and not have to focus on great games and great monetization schemes.

See ya!
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The problem with loot boxes is this.
1) micro-transactions in full priced games is/was tough enough to swallow as a consumer, but many gamers now are coming around and maybe OK with it , especially if you dont NEED to buy these microtransactions, but rather they are an option to buy to dress up a character etc.
2) What loot boxes does now however is to take this micro-customer who has come around and willing to pay for some added content, and it basically kicks them in the nuts. I cant imagine who had the balls to come up with these loot boxes. I mean what was the sales pitch..... " hey guys, guys, i got this idea, you know these customers we are milking out of a few more bucks for added content... what if we do this, we dont actually give them the content they want, but get this...ONLY a chance at getting it. Its like teasing your cat with string, but only these cats pay your for each tease..whadya think...

and to me thats the issue, and its my personal issue. If I pay extra, I'm not paying for a chance at what I want, I want the damn thing I'm purchasing. I dont go to the super market and pay 30 bucks to buy some random goddamn bag of groceries.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 18th October 2017 9:37pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
20 years ago, a player had the choice of putting in the time to get to all the content, or blatantly cheat. These days there is an aggressive attitude towards cheating, even if it happens in single player games. At the same time the function once served by cheating, has now been relocated to microtransactions.

You no longer hold three buttons to unlock every car, you have to put in the time or fork over the money. Compared to older games, that is when a customer feels disowned the most. For a while it was a race to the bottom whose game was the easiest to complete, for the sake of revenue that situation has reversed.
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Christopher Dring Publisher, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
It is interesting to see how monetisation has replaced Game Sharks and Action Replay cards
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Anthony Chan4 years ago
Wow, this touchy topic again. Even though I hear this discussion on every forum and every sub-reddit related to gaming, I can't say I agree with the view that micro-transactions are 'evil'.

I would almost argue micro-transactions serve multiple purposes in games:

1. It serves as incoming cash flow to at minimum sustain a persistent dynamic/living gaming environment. Gone are the days that games don't require server and data centers. Gone are the days where users need to host games on their own machines as others plug in via a proprietary in game matching service. Here to stay are the days of gaming that needs to be supported by a powerful server farm to host hundreds of thousands of matches every hour.

2. It creates a social hierarchy allowing those who can differentiate themselves from those who cannot. Sad but true. The world is no different that it was without social media. We still need to find ways to show who is cooler and who is square. "Paying 2 Win" is simply saying I am bringing a Ferrari to a street race so I'll smoke your rat-ass Civic. Without this mechanism, the game is no fun. It is fun to pay to stomp on your competition and it shows your e-peen. Again this is sad. But by no means this is the fault of the gaming industry. They are just catering to psychological needs of this generation and profiting. The problem is the users and those who are willing to pay - if they can pay to win, the will want to pay to win.

TL;DR Micro-transactions are evil. But not for the reasons people mostly state. Micro-transactions are evil because they are actually desired by the silent majority who use gaming as services to exact their alpha mentality. The electronic Passive Aggressive competitor. The one who somehow sees pride in accomplishing something in their electronic world. Regardless if we like it or not, micro-transactions are here to stay because gamers who can afford them, deep down love them.
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes4 years ago
@Christopher Dring: - that presumes a fantasy that gamer a wouldn’t buy another game without the trade in facility, or thar price is a barrier. In some cases, sure, largely no. When we did Darksiders 2 I made the greenlight deck address retention of the game because at 1.5m or so the game would churn and thus fail as a product. It wasn’t adequately addressed and that’s exactly what happened. EA just killed Visceral over this very problem, though what they were doing greenlighting a product that can churn in 2016 boggles the mind. The excuses by the used games business that you parrot here are just that. I actually wrote an article for this very site in 2012 over the damage wrought by used games. The lack of creativity, risk, IAP, MP-centric, DLC, Season pass - all stem from retail destroying the revenue stream. Such is business, we failed as an industry to address it when we could. Upside - the indie industry was fuelled by the very same.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
Well, I don’t mind paying for some stuff. Assassins Creed charges about $2 to show you the collectibles. That’s damn worth $2 to save my time.

I personally knowsomeone who drops about $500CAD on NHL every year. On the “HUT packs” that were loot boxes before they were popular. He buys the top end version then dumps $20-50 a month into it

Raising prices is death. Do you know why thr mainstream bought PS4 over X1? Outside of the Gamestop clerks crapping on it, that $100 for what looked identical was the issue. That’s a big reason Microsoft is going aggressive wit Samsung. They want an X1X front and center on the prettiest, biggest TV in the store with “Xbox does what So-not” stapled above it in neon to demonstrate why that extra $150 is worth it.

What is needed is what is also needed by casinos. Spending monitoring, and criminal prosecution for exploitation of addicts and children. If they see someone mortgaging his house at blackjack, and he doesn’t have five others, they should stop accepting their bets or be held liable. Same goes for “sir, you’ve dropped $200 on candy crush this month, let’s give you three months off to cool down”

You can’t stop an idiot from jumping off a roof to fly. You can hold the guy who sold him the rocket pack liable. That’s why, for example, hair salon products require a license to purchase. Why? Caustic chemicals can do major damage, and high heat hair dryers can catch your hair on fire. It’s real easy to make a computer obey such rules.
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Benjamin Solheim Sole Shareholder, ESPN4 years ago
it is not the loot boxes. We have had loot pinyatas games for years. People like getting shiny and the less work you have to do for it the funnier it is. To feel progress there has to be some work to feel as if you earned it.

When you start to raffle off the prizes instead of earn them or get them in goodies bags, people start to ask how much time and money is this hobby costing me. When I was a teen agers games cost twenty five dollars with a special editions costing me maybe forty dollars. That was in the late nineties when the economy was better controlled by the companies making money. A mid range sports car twenty thousand dollars. A home in a cheap area ten grand, and 100,000 to 450,000 in a very nice area. Those are US prices. Minimum wage was seven fifty, and I made ten dollars an hour taking tickets part time at an amusement park.

The issue is that people across the board have less money to spend and a game that only offers a week ends fun costs the same as five large pizzas or eight small pizzas, tends to cause people to drift to games they can play and still afford food. Most people need to spend about twenty five hundred a month in cheap areas and as much a five thousand a month in areas like Los Angles. People can not afford that on minimum wage and raising the bottom does not help if all it does is shrink the middle into the bottom.

When you look at needing about eight five thousand dollars a year to be able to live comfortably and save for retirement, you have to know where the money is coming from. If gamers budget say two hundred dollars a month for games that eliminates anyone below forty five thousand a year. So you have people spending their entire entertainment budget on loot boxes for what?

Most loot boxes contain ninety percent junk in most players eyes because while the surprise of getting that thing you wanted with random is really good, most of the time, the loot boxes are set up so that the ideas that have the highest prices in the in game auction houses are then pulled from the loot tables of the loot boxes and usually spawned for gm to sell to enable their gaming habits at low cost to the studios. People say value and blizzard got pass but why deconstruct the differences.

take over watch. you get loot boxes by playing. you can pay blizzard real money based on how many boxes you would have to open using random odds and likely a little tweaking. So instead of being a lack of mercy of the random system you say well I play this character or that class and simply spend the money to the pieces I want. Or you can say surprise me and you get the most amount of new stuff for the least amount of money.

Now you go to the other systems. how much do you think you have to spend on most free to play mmos to get everything from the loot boxes? Twenty dollars? Fifty dollars? Two hundred dollars? nope it is usually something like five thousand dollars. So what in those loot boxes is worth a new car? You can not resell them. You can not eat them. You can not rent them out to drive people around in them. The few sites that did the research went under due to law suits of defamation of character. Most of those games they don't last because they forget that if players are bored and tired of the same old same old content, telling them they have to buy a thousand copies of the game and hundreds of copies of the content they don't want to get the content they do want. Well other companies should consider it a good example of know your audience and know what they can and can not afford.
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Christian Burberry Studying Gamer Camp: Pro (Code), Birmingham City University4 years ago
This isn't exactly anything new. Anyone remember "Augment Your Pre-order"? Time and money spent on putting the microtransaction systems in place & marketing campaigns can be better used elsewhere. Not to mention the bad press that single-player games get for including non-cosmetic micro-transaction systems COUGH DXMD COUGH which alienate their core playerbase.

There was a time when things were simple, single-player games cost Ł40 and additional campaigns or add-ons were available for purchase. What happens more often nowadays is that content that should have been a part of the main game are cut off and separated to make a close to launch DLC and players become aggravated and more cautious towards DLC purchases as they know (recognise) they are getting a bad deal from the developer / publisher side.

Lootboxes work. The concept of lootboxes is fine provided what it offers cannot result in negative press or backlash (or alternatively your audience is fine with it - e.g. FIFA). Cosmetic items have always been a safe spot and should really be considered the standard. A lootbox for horse armor? Why thank you sir. As for other collection based games like TCGs it's an accepted standard as real life card games don't even provide the opportunity to grind for free.
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Christopher Dring Publisher, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
@Richard Browne: Pre-owned exists because of publishers' failure to acknowledge that consumers won't buy games at the RRP they set. Retailers are forced to sell well below the recommended pricing in order to hit volume, and therefore kill their margin and put their business at risk. Result? Growth of the second-hand business.

It's a classic publisher response to say 'retail is the reason this all exists'... when it isn't. It goes right back down to a broken business model created in the 1980s and never developed.
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