Loot boxes have been all over the gaming news headlines lately and for all the wrong reasons. Although if you were to ask most people, they would actually say that the only good reason for a headline about loot boxes would be to announce that they’re being removed thanks to publishers finally realizing just how scummy the practice of forced microtransactions in AAA games really is.
I’ve always maintained though that while games like Star Wars: Battlefront II makes absolutely deplorable use of loot boxes, Overwatch does a far better job of them. You earn loot boxes at a fairly quick pace just by playing the game normally, and even though you can purchase them with actual money, you really don’t have to as all they offer are cosmetic upgrades to your characters. There are some that would argue though that just by being included in the game, developer Blizzard is actively trying to tempt those gamers with less than strong resolve into dropping real-world cash on these costumes and emotes. And now those people can even spend that money on their friends!
Blizzard recently rolled out a new update to their Battle.net game launcher which included a number of social elements. Along with things like forming chat groups and having detailed social profiles also comes the ability to purchase loot boxes in Overwatch but then to gift them to people on your friends list. Besides for Overwatch loot boxes, the new Battle.net app will also gamers to gift World of Warcraft pets and mounts and Hearthstone card packs to friends. You can check it out in the video below.
I’ve played a lot of Overwatch but my total gaming hours pales in comparison to some of the fanatics in my regular group. And in all those hundreds upon hundreds of hours of gaming none of us have ever felt the need to actually buy a lootbox. If we’re not even willing to spend that money on ourselves, we sure as hell won’t spend it on somebody else. But that’s us. Somewhere out there is a gamer who thinks this is a great idea, because although he’s already spent money to grab that sweet Genji skin, he can now spend even more money to do the same for his friends. And that is where these things get dangerous.
I still like the way Overwatch handles lootboxes (especially since they fixed the duplicate issue), especially when compared to some of the villainous implementations in other games, but I won’t deny that developers getting rid of all lootboxes everywhere in AAA games is the preferable outcome. Instead they’re just thinking up new ways to buy them.
Last Updated: October 26, 2017