Shadow of War shows that loot boxes don’t ruin games


Micro-transactions have always been a sore point for gamers, and who can blame them given the generally poor implementation. We’ve argued for in-app purchases (IAPs) in the past, but now the discussion has shifted a bit today from IAPs to “loot boxes,” which have been described as games of chance. It’s now so widespread that even after a very positive Middle: Earth Shadow of War review, we felt the need to write an article on how to play the game without micro-transactions.

In case you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s how it works, in short: the game rewards you with loot boxes which can be purchased with in-game currency, but if you don’t have enough, it is possible to spend real money to get the loot boxes instead. You don’t know what’s inside the box when you buy it – there will be a mix of items of varying value that you can use in-game. This is not a new concept , appearing in Japanese mobile games with such alarming frequency and execution that they required government intervention. Since then, we’ve seen games like FIFA use it to power FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode by letting you buy players, and other games like Overwatch that just let you earn cosmetic items.

This is different from the old in-app purchases because if you wanted, for example, a particular piece of equipment to improve your character, you would know in advance how much it cost in real money, and you could decide whether or not it was worth it. sadness. On the other hand, with loot boxes, you strength to be able to obtain this equipment for much lessand so you’ll get a loot box, then a few more after that, until you end up paying a significant premium over the price of the game.

As predatory and deceptive as they can be, the argument that loot boxes are games of chance falls flat when you consider one simple thing – they don’t offer you anything real bang for your buck. Yes, the price of the in-game item is worth a certain amount of money, but it’s still just a virtual item in a virtual world, and something you can’t get any material benefit from. You could argue that items can be resold for money, but that’s a different debate; and the other argument is that these purchases save you time in the game, but of course any time spent in a game is optional, like playing with a toy. It’s an itch-scratching toy, but much like an in-app purchase for a free Facebook farming game, there’s absolutely no reason to spend your money.

In fact, in our review of Middle-earth: Shadow of War – the game that seems to have been the tipping point of this discussion for a lot of people – we note that the game doesn’t nag you to pay, n doesn’t hinder your progress in any way, and we never felt compelled to spend any money. A bad implementation would be Forza 7, which forces you to spend items every possible moment – even in game menus. main story to buy you some time, as the game developers said, but you end up missing the best bits of the game – its combat and the procedural world around it. Essentially, you’re giving Warner Bros more money to skip the best parts of the game.

Speaking of which, much of the objection to loot boxes – and in-game purchases – comes from the argument that you’re paying beyond the rate of a “full price” game for these extras. , and that seems reasonable, except that if you spend a bit of time searching, you’ll find people who also complain about IAP in free titles that don’t cost a rupee to download or play.

Moreover, it also takes away the fact that the cost of making games has not remained stagnant over the years. Yes, the companies that release them are giant money-making machines and the developers will rarely see much of the accrued profit, but that’s frankly true of any industry you’re talking about. And if the money-making machine stops making money, then the games you discuss so passionately also disappear. Of course, it’s a process – for now, even games that poorly implement loot boxes will sell well based on pedigree and hype, and maybe that’s why we’re also seeing this degree of vocal reaction. But in a while it will get a course correction.

The other alternative is to increase the price of the games, which is frankly unfeasible. At $60 in the US and around Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 in India, the games aren’t cheap, and they’re unlikely to get any cheaper. Because of this, people are often hesitant to try new things and will keep buying sequels instead. Rising prices will only make this even more prevalent.

sow the shadow of war in combat

There has to be a better way to support the video game economy – perhaps big AAA games as we know them will slowly be relegated to a niche that rarely appears as a big industry event. They certainly won’t go away as long as there’s an audience, but the number of titles might shrink, and they might not be the typical experience the game will provide in the future. Studios will be looking for ways to make money and will continue to experiment with new things. For example, Activision recently patented a matchmaking experience that encourages micro-transactions.

Another trend worth noting is that indie games are getting bigger and better – the difference between a mid-budget title and a big blockbuster is narrowing from a customer perspective. Loot boxes might be needed to support AAA, but indies are coming in to fill in the gaps so players still have the option to support developers who aren’t pursuing monetization as aggressively.

For example, Ninja Theory managed to make Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice look like a big half-price AAA show, and was also commercially successful. Games like this make it clear that indie creators will continue to blur the line between themselves and big budget games, so players won’t run out of options.

Right now though, loot boxes aren’t a great solution to this problem, but they certainly are an answer to it – and the fact that they continue to exist proves that the economy supports their addition. Enough people are willing to spend money on loot boxes that it makes sense for the devs to add them – if you complain about loot boxes, you’re outvoted by other people’s wallets.

There will almost certainly be instances of overuse of this monetization method. We’ve seen it in NBA 2K18, Forza 7, and if initial impressions are any indication, Star Wars Battlefront 2 could also be about it. Hopefully, in such cases, players won’t put up with it by choosing to spend their money elsewhere. But as Shadow of War shows, it’s also possible to do this in a way that suits both sets – players who are willing to pay for a little more ease, and those who are having fun instead.

Tech

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