Opinion: Gamble On A Game


In today's gaming world we buy in to a few things more than what we used to. When you purchased a game cartridge years ago what you paid is what you got. No updates or expanded content. No cosmetic changes to your character on your cartridge. The newest version or expansion in a story of a game you loved to play came when the developer made the next one in the series. Now when we go buy our physical disk or download the game we buy into a release schedule with patches, mechanics or seasonal and timed content updates. The worst form of these updates or content is in Loot Boxes, paid for content with randomized rewards.

These crates of content are often purchased by spending your real, hard earned money on boxes/bundles that revolve around luck. Nobody in the modern gaming world is new to this concept and its been rather successful for many companies in driving additional revenue into a game and some of those companies put it right back into developing more content for their players. But today I'm triggered by a recent article I read: www.vg247.com/2018/04/16/its-clear-to-us-that-players-see-the-company-differently-than-we-do-says-ea/

A quick summary of the article can be found in a quote from it: "It’s clear to us that players see the company differently than we do,” says EA.

EA recently had a large uproar from gamers at their front door over the loot boxes in their Star Wars Battlefront 2 game. And rightfully so it triggered them to "revamp" their structure of loot box content which included cosmetic pieces but also some items considered as "pay to win". Which basically means the more money you put in, the better you'll play. This taints the quality of your players in the game because you're having people who can afford to buy these boxes out in front of those who have to work to earn them with in game currency. Putting players who want to put more time into the game at a disadvantage because they aren't buying their way to the goal.

The controversy around EA's loot boxes also spurred the conversation on if loot boxes are enabling people to gamble on content and not doing right by the players to help limit their purchases. Some people find themselves spending more money than they realize to try and get one specific item that they may never actually receive because the odds are stacked against them and not properly communicated. When a person purchases a Loot Box they don't know the probability that they will receive what they want or if they'll get the 14th copy of a common item. Causing them to put more and more money into the game.

For me this type of "addiction" happened while I was playing Destiny. I would log on regularly to play the daily mission, daily strikes, weekly nightfalls and raids all so I could complete my list of exotic weapons and gear. I would spend 4-7 hours a night trying to beat all the content for that day and attempt the harder weekly ones with my friends. After hours of dying and trying over and over we would get through the whole ordeal with maybe one different item than what we had before. I stress "MAYBE" quite a bit because more often than not we would never get anything better or new. We had no idea what the probability was to get the items we were missing prior to us grinding for these items. Now I don't play Destiny because I didn't feel rewarded for the time and effort I put into the game that I enjoyed playing with my friends.

Money grabs for revenue by the game companies whether it is developer or producer driven are common but hurtful to their communities. People build an Us vs Them mentality when they think of the players they are going up against and the companies making these games. Why support a pay to win system when you're not enjoying the game because others are getting to that content before you? Why buy into a company if their idea of additional content is paying more for something that could be earned through playing the game more and achieving certain goals? Why does a company make a full game with all the content and then piecemeal it out for dollars here and there instead of releasing it as a whole? These are the important questions of our time in gaming as we see more companies go to this model and as we seen an increase of availability in indie developer content.

Smaller more driven content makers are helping shape the world of gaming we are in like Thomas Happ, creator of Axiom Verge or Stardew Valley by Chucklefish. These people are a reminder of what the video game world used to look like before large companies came around and gobbled up the small fries.

Because of these conglomerates we are seeing content produced with the dollar in mind and not the experience which is what drives the buzz about games and brings it to the attention of the masses. No one is thinking how many loot boxes can they buy to help support a game. They want to have an enjoyable experience and feel an accomplishment that they can share with someone to get them to buy the game. Or in my case I wanted a game that I could play with friends, where we could work together to accomplish a hard task and feel rewarded and driven to do the next one. Now I'm weary at any game that relies on a random loot system and won't spend my money or time with it. Putting me at a distance with my friends when it comes to playing mainstream games and even just multiplayer games in general. Game companies should be focusing on how they can use their content to drive revenue and bring their communities closer while growing them at the same time.

Now I may be fighting what is inevitable when it comes to the progression of gaming content and development but I think there's a lot of people on my side. If you're one who would like to see less pay to win content and Loot Box systems then leave a comment here. Or if you disagree I'd love to hear why so we can learn from each other. 




Matt Knopsnider