Score aggregator OpenCritic is taking a stand on loot boxes

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OpenCritic steps into the ring to take on loot boxes

The beginning of this year feels so far away all of a sudden. it was inundated with top-shelf videogames, with the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Persona 5, NieR: Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn and more. And if there’s one thing all of those games had in common (which seemed pretty throwaway at the time) was their lack of loot boxes. Something which the current slate of end of year blockbusters can’t boast. And at least one website is taking a harsh stand against it.

Joining the growing groans of media outlets and players alike, OpenCritic is now attempting to gauge how they could better represent titles and their aggregate scores with more information about microtransactions and loot boxes. The thoughts were shared via the company’s Twitter account, which asked for suggestions around how users might want to filter their results.

Should games be available on a slider that determines how much of their support is propped up by randomisation and gambling? Should games with purely cosmetic microtransactions stand against those with game altering additions? And should games that lock this content to in-game earnings be separated by those that support real-world transactions?

They’re all important questions in a climate that has quickly boiled the debate over the top. Forza Motorsport 7’s progression being tied to loot boxes was a strange change for the series, while he inclusion in Shadow of War seems like a particularly weird (and dirty) after thought. But the holiday season is full of games seeking to capitalise more. Star Wars Battlefront II already has fans riled up over pay-to-win aspects of the game following its beta this weekend. Assassin’s Creed Origins is locking its own loot boxes within the game’s own currency. And even Call of Duty WWII is dipping its feet into the fad.

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It’s a troubled hard left from publishers, and certainly something that seems as dangerous and damaging as the first real wave of multiplayer passes in the wake of the curb stomp to second-hand sales. OpenCritic wanting to make the space more understandable is consumer-facing, and something I personally hope is rolled out in an effective manner.

Last Updated: October 9, 2017

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • Hammersteyn

    Excellent news this. The price of games hasn’t gone up yes, but publishers has learned from this. These days you get the standard edition for $60. From there the deluxe or silver or gold editions with more content can be $80,$100 or even $150 as with NBA 2K18. Plus they’ve added the MT you get from F2P games on mobile and now loot boxes are popping up everywhere.

    I bemoaned loot boxes when they popped up in Overwatch, a $60 AAA game, as a start to something exploitive to those who liked to gamble every now and then but I was told off because it’s cosmetic items only. It doesn’t affect the game people said but it does.

    I’ll be frequenting OpenCritic more regularly from now on. The AAA market has turned into a cesspool of greed and exploitation. More and more publishers are hunting the whales of gaming and I hope they shoot themselves in the foot. Gaming was doing fine without all this freemium crap. Thank heavens for indie games.

    • schitsophrenic-toothbrush

      Agreed guy!

    • HairyEwok

      Played Battlefront 2 Beta this weekend and the loot boxes made a huge difference in gameplay. So obviously people will purchase scrap to upgrade their cards early on which will give them a huge lead against the bloke who doesn’t want to splash cash on the game to make it an even battle.

    • BakedBagel

      How does purely cosmetic items effect the game in anyway besides being cosmetic?

      If you want a fancy skin, pay the dolla for a chance.

      • HairyEwok

        Psychological I think….. Given the opportunity to play with your favorite skin could potentially up your game.

        • BakedBagel

          Uhm, just because you see different pixels on the screen doesnt change how the hero works or how the game is played. In terms of overwatch, they showed you the base skins, what hero’s look like, you purchased the game knowing that. Now they adding in added EXTRA’s. That people should just get for free? Lmfao. I completely agree with paying for extra cosmetic items. But saying that just because you have Genji that looks like a power ranger is somehow going to make you play better is laughable.

      • ReverendFunk

        Because all the different skins used to be part of the base game. They should at least make a choice between their 3 tier buy in and micro transactions. But now they are just throwing all this F2P mobile gaming crap in too and seeing what sticks.

        • ReverendFunk

          AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE STOP PRE-ORDERING!!!!!

        • BakedBagel

          added COSMETIC items, in most cases are added after the fact. You are expecting EXTRA (most of the time added after the game is released [especially in terms of overwatch]) for free. If they are hiding game mechanics and non-cosmetic bonuses behind a paywall i agree with you. But if you want a special skin that they have added into the game then pay for it.

          • ReverendFunk

            It’s a AAA game sold for $60 by a multi billion dollar company. I don’t have much sympathy for them. But tbh Overwatch is the least offensive of these type of games.

          • BakedBagel

            Again. If a AAA game is offering purely cosmetic items behind a paywall whats the problem? No one is forcing you to purchase it? Totally different if specific mechanics and progression are hidden in the boxes. Again, no one is forcing you to purchase cosmetic items.

          • BakedBagel

            Battlefield is a perfect example on how NOT to do paywall bullshit. Premium que times? Entire classes fully unlocked? Thats some bs that i donot agree with.

          • I fully agree with this. Overwatch’s handling of loot boxes is fine. I’ve never paid real world money for a loot box, and I have just about every skin I want for a character.

          • Hammersteyn

            That’s nice that you’ve never paid. But selling lootboxes for real cash and not knowing what you’re gonna get is gambling and some people have problems not throwing cash at a slot machine.

          • BakedBagel

            So we must get rid of alcohol because some people become alcoholics? XD
            China took a great step forward I. This regard forcing companies to show percentage chances

          • ReverendFunk

            That’s how society works, you can only go as fast as your slowest person.

            Jim explains it best.

          • ReverendFunk

            Plus games like these are played by minors a lot. They don’t have the self control and get exploited as a result.

          • ReverendFunk

            Why make excuses for the removal and monetization of stuff that was always included in games?

          • BakedBagel

            So added extra skins have always been in games that were given? Please read what I’m saying. 99% of the stuff in cosmetic loot boxes were added after the fact of release. The only thing they monetizing is their own work. If you don’t like it don’t buy it.

          • ReverendFunk

            I have been playing games long enough to remember when different skins were just normal included options.

            And if you think skins aren’t planned and created ages in advance you are mistaken.

            If you read what I said, the way Overwatch does it is the least offensive. I have more of an ace to grind with locking progression behind real or in game currency walls.

          • BakedBagel

            Creating in advance does not mean added before release. Even if the skin takes a year to create it’s still their added work. The way overwatch does it is fine. The way Dota does it is fine. Purely cosmetic items don’t add or take away from anything but the pixels on your screen. If you don’t like it don’t buy it. Pretty simple.

          • ReverendFunk

            And the games that give paid advantage? I don’t have to buy the boosts/progression if I don’t want to but I’m screwed if I don’t.

          • BakedBagel

            I’ve already specifically said that paywalling progression and mechanics is bs.

          • Hammersteyn

            Yes! Only after games went online we were being sold the same goods we got for free. It started with horse armour and people were pissed off. But now cosmetic things are fine? People are submitting to the publishers.

          • BakedBagel

            You are now conflating mods and cosmetic loot from the games. Was horse armour paraded around like it was part of the game when you purchased the game? Was it added in after the fact?

          • Hammersteyn

            It was added in after the game launched because consoles were online. Now publishers could sell content after the game was released. Okay let’s look at Street Fighter. In SF2 you could select different colours for your character at the push of a button, now you need to buy the same thing after dropping AAA money on the game. Not to mention you’ll need the season pass as well if you want all the characters. For heaven’s sake one costume pack costs as much as R475. How does that make any sense?
            Games are being carved up like a thanksgiving turkey so that publishers can draw more and more cash out of us.

          • BakedBagel

            I’m not disagreeing with what you are saying. The pricing for these things are absolutely shocking. And from my previous comments you know I don’t agree with the sliced up bs they doing. But you used OW as an example. Taking shaders like you explained and the different skins in SF is a very good argument.

            But in terms of giving you the option to unlock a new skin that was added in after the fact is a okay imo

          • Hammersteyn

            True, I mean OW does the seasonal thing for Halloween and Christmas.

          • BakedBagel

            I remember playing Tekken for fooken hours getting different skins… Stuff like that should be given free 100% agree or hidden behind progression like the old days

          • Hammersteyn

            Tekken was awesome, every time you finished the game with someone else you’d unlock a different character. Even in the arcades. If they reset Tekken 3 you’d have to unlock everything from scratch. Now it’s all about money.

        • Hammersteyn

          Excatly

      • Hammersteyn

        Because I like changing the look of my character. For instance In Destiny 1 there were a multitude of shaders and I can do as I like when I like. I like customizing things. But now the shaders has been made a consumable item. One use only. Sure you can buy more but the come in bundles of 3 and you need 4 to fully customize the look. It’s greed!

        • BakedBagel

          Do shaders change how your character operates in the world in terms of mechanics? I haven’t played D1.

          • Hammersteyn

            Look, lot’s of people don’t care about cosmetics and I guess the publishers were smart enough to hit us with MT where it hurts the least. But there are some of us that do care about customization, laughable as it may seem. If it’s in the game, it affects the game.

          • BakedBagel

            Your personal feelings towards your character have little to no impact for other players. And doesn’t give you an advantage.

            Shady and greedy 100%

          • Hammersteyn

            Well, I mean, when we line up in Destiny 2 for PvP you kinda wanna look like a badass. But you’re right, it doesn’t affect the gameplay at all.

          • BakedBagel

            M8 100% I also want the skirt for pubg :c…

          • Hammersteyn

            XD

          • BakedBagel

            There has to be a revision of this entire loot system because you are right when you say it’s gambling… No other way to look at it. I also think that companies have a right to sell any IP that they add too the game. Specifics not included obviously

          • Hammersteyn

            There needs to be regulation.

        • BakedBagel

          That actually sounds alot like spray painting walls in csgo

        • ReverendFunk

          Classic example of something hacked out the game and charged for.

          All good I guess…

          • Hammersteyn

            Activision ignored the outcry, we have no choice but to live with it.

    • BakedBagel
      • Hammersteyn

        Classic!

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    If you buy it, they will make more.

    Fucking simple.

  • Quentin Huggett

    “inundated with top-shelf videogames, with the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Persona 5, NieR: Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn and more” i missed those, what made them top
    shelf?

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