Look through any gaming forum and loot crates appear to be the bane of everyone’s life. Only, these things are generating record income year after year so there’s clearly a humongous market for this business practice. There are now AAA games that earn more from loot crates than they do from the sale of the game itself.
However much the money talks though, publishers are always treading a treacherously thin tightrope. Any time loot crates are added to a game it is as a compromise to the developer’s vision. The only conceivable reason to put paid loot boxes into games to make extra money. From a gameplay perspective, they literally cannot improve a game above and beyond a good tailored unlock system. Even Activision’s greediest suit would struggle to argue a game is genuinely a better experience because users can pay for a randomised box of digital skins.
Once the decision has been made to incorporate loot crates though, it’s then a balancing act of making the customer want to buy them whilst simultaneously reassuring them they don’t need to buy them. Which is, well, a bizarre thing to have to do for any business. Stray too far into needing to buy loot crates and you end up with a Star Wars Battlefront 2 disaster. Make the loot crates worthless and then why bother putting them in, in the first place? Battlefield 1 immediately springs to mind.
Instead, developers will want to exist in a hazy middle ground of inoffensive implementation and good but not unmissable contents. As far as anything affecting gameplay goes, publishers appear to be learning that’s a big no-no.
However loot crates are put into a game though, the fact of the matter is that millions are buying them. Love them or loathe them, they’re a big part of what gaming has become in 2018.
So to get a little feel for just how popular they are, here’s a couple of quick polls. Don’t worry, there are no names attached, no one will find out your dirty little loot box secret! Get voting and let us know why you do or don’t buy loot crates below!