Friday Debate: Loot boxes are a cheap trick to keep you hooked for longer

2 min read


You know a game is damn good when you still find yourself playing it long after the end credits have wrapped. I’m talking the kind of experiences which demand dozens upon dozens of your finite hours upon this planet, games which rack up literal days of action from your thumbs and then some. Some games do this by being properly lengthy affairs, like anything in the Final Fantasy series.

Others keep you invested in the ride by throwing all manner of extra quests and objectives at your face that yield the most exclusive rewards. Other games prefer something far easier: Loot boxes.

It seems that just about every game these days has some sort of option in place for you to earn a lucky packet of gear and trinkets that marginally improves upon your character build. Overwatch is perhaps the guiltiest culprit in this instance, as it divvies out loot boxes that more often than not include the most spiteful incarnation of RNGesus as you find yourself having worked for hours to earn yet another emote that you’ve unlocked several times already.

On the other end of the spectrum, Injustice 2 hasn’t been tight-fisted at all with its loot as it regularly throws out top-tier Diamond-class Mother Boxes on a daily basis if you’re ready for about an hour’s worth of grinding. The idea still grates me, although I can’t stop engaging in it. I blame this on the part of my brain that happens to have an actual addiction to gambling in real life that I’ve so far managed to control reasonably well over the years.

The mental part of you that lights up the reward pathways in your neural architecture when it’s exposed to bright lights, loud noises and a feeling of satisfaction. Loot boxes are seldom awarded properly however, and the whole system just feels like a cheap trick to keep you playing and paying for longer. What do you think? Are loot boxes full of non-essential cosmetic gimmicks ruining gaming since they seem to pop up in every title lately, or are they just a fad that you’re capable of ignoring?

Last Updated: June 2, 2017

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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