Video games have been an ever changing and diversifying medium of art for the past several decades. From the early arcades of the 70’s and 80’s to the more modern, home consoles, there have been many different systems put in place to get people to play games. In recent years however, the increasing cost of production of games has made developers look for alternative methods of revenue to supplement a game long after release.
No longer can a studio pump out a complete game, and start work on a sequel or a new franchise. To justify and offset some of this content, there has been an increase in the use of lootbox mechanics, almost akin to scratch off lottery tickets. At the beginning of the lootbox movement, most gamers didn’t seem to mind spending an extra few dollars for added content or a chance to get fancy or rare in game “prizes.” However, it seems as developers took note of this trend, they started to pack more and more content behind these artificial paywalls. Many casual and professional gamers say this model as becoming a pay-to-win method and something that could endanger the community and video games as a whole.
The entire debate of loot boxes recently came to ahead with the release of the public beta of Star Wars Battlefront 2. Some saw the way loot boxes were handled so egregiously that they started a petition for the government to investigate whether or not loot boxes could be considered gambling. In the case of the Battlefront 2 beta, it seemed almost any item or ability a player would need to succeed was locked behind a paywall. Someone with an unlimited supply or more money could easily purchase more loot boxes and use the system to ruin the game and beat a player who plays the game without ever buying any. Thankfully EA, the game’s publisher, say the backlash and responded by completely overhauling the system. In his article, Jeff Grubb details some of the changes.
While not necessarily a sign of the future, the free market seems to be quickly and quietly correcting the abundant use of loot boxes in video games. Hopefully down the road, more content will be available from the get go and not locked behind pay-to-win style randomness.