While I didn’t really want to focus on any kind of controversy being someone relatively new to writing and basically a no body. I figured I’d share my own personal opinion on loot boxes with it still being.. well, a topic to discuss. Right off the bat, I’ll go straight to the point. I do feel like loot boxes are a form of gambling, there’s no way to deny it as much as any of the bigger video game companies want to fight against it. The main argument has been that loot boxes exploit people who have addictive personalities. While not a fan of loot boxes for different reasons, I am someone who knows others who are indeed gambling addicts and I have seen how it can negatively impact not just their own lives, but also the lives of their families. People who even if they have no money to spend, will find a way to spend money they don’t have. With that said I have no doubt in my mind cases of like this could pop up through something as simple as buying loot boxes or ultimate team packs.
To those unfamiliar with video game gambling here’s how it works. For this one I’ll use an example of a series I’ve had the most experience with. The Electronic Arts NHL series. While not exclusive to just NHL games having seen it in Madden and seeing FIFA 18 and 19 stirring commotion with what is essentially the same thing. This is basically like buying a pack of sports cards from the store. These cards can either be obtained in-game, horribly, by grinding away for hours on end or by spending real life money. Now at first glance this might not seem so bad, I just compared it to buying a pack of sports cards at the store. No way, it’s never that simple, a lot of these cards have limited in game usage and after using them up they’re gone for good and the option you have left on the table is to get some more. The basic problem with this is RNG (Random Number Generator). You can find yourself opening packs left and right getting horrible cards that give no competitive edge making the grind feel even more steep to where pulling out that wallet to help skip that ridiculous grind might seem even more appealing. I have no doubt in my mind anyone with any form of gambling addiction or is just easily addicted to this kind of thing could sit there spending money on virtual packs of cards just to see what they can stockpile, even if it means spending hundreds of dollars for these cards that have limited usage.
As for loot boxes, while I personally have little experience with the more exploitative ones, I have been exposed to them even in games where there is no purchasable currency. The Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Blades system is essentially in theory the same deal. You have a very low chance of getting a good blade with its own uniqueness or a high chance of getting a horrible and boring generic blade that basically just become trash to send out on merc missions or a temporary swap in to boost stats. The bottom line is the RNG to these things can be ridiculous and they are absolutely designed in an irritating way to entice people to spend money, if they can be annoying in a game with no purchasable currency like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I have no doubt in my mind in games created by publishers that are trying to exploit their customers they will make the RNG way more outrageous. These companies want the grind to be ridiculous so people will want to spend money to skip the boring part. All in all, even as someone who would not spend a cent on a loot box or a virtual card pack. I still can agree with all the complaints and while not all RNG is a bad thing, in this way it’s just not something I want to see.