Loot crates. Dear god, loot crates. Where do I begin. The last two or three years has been an absolute onslaught of randomised goodies tucked away in locked boxes. Valve kind of kickstarted this with CSGO and Team Fortress 2, but then every Tom, Dick and Harry spied an opportunity to make a quick buck. Now basically any successful multiplayer game is packed to the gills with loot crates. Rocket League; Heroes of the Storm; Battlefield 1; Elder Scrolls Online; Overwatch. You name it, it’s got loot crates. Heck, even single-player titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider have got in on the action, and now Twitch has them of all places.
I think my frustration with loot crates reached its zenith this week when I booted up Rocket League of an evening. My first match some cockwallop was just spamming the word trade the entire match. Then it the second match my teammate reached out with “Trade?” before we’d even kicked off. I politely said no thanks. He then just left the match, leaving me in a 1 v 2. The rage boiling up inside me I can’t describe.
They’re everywhere. A constant distraction designed to appeal to the gotta catch-em-all mentality. It’s one thing including loot crates in a free-to-play title, it’s a whole different thing to cram them into your $60 AAA title with a $50 season pass though. How Battlefield 1 seems to get a pass on this I’ll never know, while people are falling over themselves to praise Overwatch while it’s got its own loot crate system.
Naturally there’s two sides to every coin, and for the most part loot crates are purely cosmetic. Some aren’t, but that’s a whole different matter. There’s an argument to be made that cosmetic goodies don’t affect the balance of a game. If it was a super powerful weapon it’s easier to see the train of thought behind disliking it, but when it’s a new knife skin it seems relatively harmless.
What we’ve ended up in is a situation where it’s absolutely fine to lock away cosmetic content behind loot crates, as if the visual appearance of your character doesn’t matter and doesn’t count towards the cost of a $60 purchase. Why? Clearly people love cosmetics, that’s why they’re buying the crates in droves. It used to be great to unlock alternate costumes for characters in games, usually as a reward for completing a tough challenge. Now you’re asked to buy it. It’s a system designed to tug at your wallet, extracting additional cash after your game purchase. It’s also abhorrent they’re usually randomised. This ticks all the boxes for gambling 101, adding rarity and manipulating players into having just one more roll of the dice.
It's a struggle to me to conceive how loot crates are pro-consumer, but I'd love to open it up to you and get your opinions. Does anybody love loot crates? Are they becoming too invasive? Let us know!