Alright mate. Calm down, I know it’s a lot to take in and believe me I’m with you. But hear me out. Come on in, I’ll make you a brew. Abernethy buiscuit? Alright let’s open this can of worms. And look I’ve gave you some nice cat pictures to lighten the mood a wee bit.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the argument about games being much, much more expensive to make nowadays than they were back in the day. £50 is worth a lot less than it was back in the ‘90s. Right, we’ve all heard that until our ears are bursting. I’m not here to bore you with facts & figures that’s not why I asked you round. But let’s try and look a this from a business perspective from both their and our side of the fence before we get the torches and pitch forks out again.
The big companies EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Warner Bros, 2K, Epic, Bluehole, Microsoft & Blizzard. They’ve all adopted this loot box carry on. Some are doing it right, some are doing it wrong. But many of us gamers don’t care we collectively hate them and want things to go back to the way they were way back when. When you could unlock all of this stuff for free by fully completing games and finding secrets tucked into every corner. Sorry mate, that’s not going to happen.
Sorry I’ve started with a massive downer. Let’s look at the people doing it right. Blizzard, Epic, Bluehole, Microsoft & Ubisoft all have loot boxes in their games, either bought with real money or earned from playing, with cosmetic items and in some cases that do affect gameplay. But those have been handled well and don’t break the game for people with less time and/or money to invest in them.
HALO 5: GUARDIANS & GEARS OF WAR 4
Halo 5: Guardians came out at the end of 2015 over two years ago. Since then it has had a plethora of free DLC with new maps, modes & gameplay features added to the game’s multiplayer component. This has kept a large group of fans very happy and gave them excellent value for money whether they have never spent anything more than the initial £50 purchase of the game. Or if they’ve invested a bit more in the game’s Req Packs aka loot boxes.
Their loot boxes can be earned easily enough by playing the game in a steady and rewarding manner. They contain mostly cosmetic items and items that do affect gameplay but not in an unfair way. So you could pick up Halo 5 today and jump in with veterans and not be left at an unfair advantage other than them being much more experienced than you.
The Looking For Groups and Clubs social features on the Xbox One makes it easy to find a welcoming and helpful community of players that will shepherd you in and teach you how to get good at the game. As well as the game’s own clan system. If that’s not your cup of tea it doesn’t take long to learn yourself by playing what it’s all about. This is very true of Gears Of War 4 as well where again came out over a year ago and has had loads of cool stuff added for free to extend it’s value even if you choose not to spend any more on in-game items.
Looking For Groups and Clubs social benefits are applicable to all games on Xbox One as well just as an aside.
OVERWATCH, FORTNITE & PUBG
All of these games have a similar system. Lots of free add-on content monetised by cosmetic only loot boxes that can easily be earned by playing them or spending real money, without being unfair for people who haven’t got as much time or money to put into them.
Overwatch was a full price game at launch back in May 2016. Now you can buy a Game Of The Year Edition that still costs £50 for the base game but, has nearly two years worth of add-ons you’ll be able to install for free and a lot of in game items and loot boxes to get you started, that have loads of customisation options for the game’s many characters to get them looking just they way you want. As if you’d invested hundreds of hours worth of gameplay or a good amount more cash that veterans have over the last couple of years. Again you can jump straight in, find your feet and enjoy the party.
Fortnite & PUBG (Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds) are a bit later to the party. But both have cosmetic only items that can be bought with real money or easily earned from playing and regular free additional content continually being added to extend the game’s life and value for money.
Fortnite has two modes Horde Mode which can be bought currently for £35. As I said in my review I feel this is a little steep, from our perspective, considering it will be free to play at some point in 2018. £20 is a better sweet spot for me and would be more likely to incentivise people to spend more on cosmetic items if they really enjoy the game.
The Battle Royal Mode is free to play and has the same cosmetic items only monetisation. Of course when Horde & Battle Royale are both free, Fortnite as a complete package will be a shining example of value for money. Again Battle Royale has been getting a lot of free content added since it launched last year.
PUBG has cosmetic only items available to buy or earn easily by playing. It is available for around £25 on either PC or Xbox One. Since launching in March 2017 on PC it has had numerous updates and added content for free. The Xbox One version came out in December 2017 and will have the same road map as the PC version and eventually they will meet in the middle and continue to grow together and continue to add value without forcing anyone to spend more than that initial £25 purchase price.
Ok so here we are. I’ve bursted your ears for long enough. But I hope this gives you a better opinion of the loot box business model and offers a glimmer of hope. Instead of the mainstream press tarring and feathering everyone with the same brush and confusing people.
There are great examples of how loot boxes can be a great thing. Games As A Service shouldn’t be scary. It can and has been done right by some of these big companies that keeps fans, shareholders, employees & all the other wolves back from their door.
I’m not trying to change your mind on loot boxes and/or games as a service. But have a think about all of this and I hope it gives you a more informed opinion than the press wants us to have to get more clicks and people raging in comments boxes. These companies are offering great value for money here and if this is how they have to monetise games then I’m all for it. As long as they don’t change their ways and start getting greedy like EA, Activision, 2K & Warner Bros.
Maybe support the ones offering such great value and the ones doing it wrong might take the pound notes out of their ears long enough to listen. If they don’t then that’s no dramas. Screw them. We don’t need them. If they’re too busy taking massive swan dives into their money bins, Scrooge McDuck style, to care then why should we?