The majority of gamers are either unaware of loot boxes or are largely indifferent to them.
That's the broad conclusion from GameTrack's latest survey. GameTrack - the consumer research project from Ipsos Connect - surveyed a panel of gamers across the UK, France, Germany and Spain every quarter. For the latest results, the firm asked a handful of specific questions on loot boxes on behalf of GamesIndustry.biz.
The loot box is a virtual consumable where gamers pay a fee to receive in-game items or improvements, but the exact contents of each 'loot box' is randomised. It's faced fierce criticism from some vocal players who view the mechanic as exploitative and akin to gambling - a definition that the games industry's various trade bodies reject.
According to the survey, only 27% of gamers across France, Germany, Spain and the UK are aware of loot boxes. The UK sector is the one that is most familiar with loot boxes, with 37% of gamers familiar with the mechanic, whereas in France awareness is 28%, Germany is 21% and Spain is 23%.
When it comes to general consumers (not just gamers), unsurprisingly awareness is even lower with 17% across all four countries aware of loot boxes.
GameTrack also posed gamers with a series of statements around loot boxes and asked them to agree strongly, agree slightly, neither agree or disagree, disagree strongly or disagree slightly with the statements.
Overall, gamers don't have strong feelings about loot box mechanics, although there is clearly a proportion of users that feel they don't add anything useful or positive to the experience.
When asked if they agreed that loot boxes improve a gaming experience, 58% neither agreed or disagreed with the statement (across all countries). Meanwhile, 18% agreed with the statement, and 23% disagreed.
We also asked gamers if they thought loot boxes made them think more positively about game companies, 54% had no opinion, 10% agreed with the statement, whereas 37% disagreed. In fact 20% 'strongly disagreed' that loot boxes made them feel positively about the companies that used them, which suggests that loot boxes create some negative feeling among some consumers.
In terms of whether gamers agreed if loot boxes are a positive influence on the games industry, 59% had no opinion, 15% agreed and 25% disagreed.
An interesting statement was around purchasing intent of games that utilise loot boxes. The statement was: Knowing that a game contains loot boxes makes me more likely to purchase it. 46% neither agreed or disagreed, 9% agreed, whereas a sizeable 45% disagreed. In fact, 29% strongly disagreed that loot boxes positively influenced their purchasing decisions - which suggests that it has the opposite influence for some consumers.
The next statement was: Loot boxes make a game feel more personalised - 57% offered no opinion, 20% agreed and 23% disagreed. And finally, we stated: Loot boxes help in achieving success in a game - 56% neither agreed or disagreed, 24% agreed and 20% disagreed.
For more information on Ipsos Connect's GameTrack service, click here.