This is a very heated topic in the gaming industry at the moment because of EA’s big move with Star Wars Battlefront II.
It began with EA adding in loot boxes into Star Wars Battlefront II, that doesn’t seem so bad does it? But players started to realise what you can unlock with these loot boxes they weren’t just cosmetic items (what a fair number of gamers accept), you could also earn something called Star Cards and these Star Cards can give you a slight advantage over a player that didn’t buy loot boxes, this led to a very big uproar from the gaming community.
Following on from that, players also noticed how much time a gamer would have to spend on the game to unlock items within the game. It was estimated that it would take you about 40 hours (this is time in matches playing to earn you credits so you can buy the heroes with credits) to just earn you one hero and these heroes are Luke and Vader. They are the most expensive in the game costing you 60,000 credits and others costing about 40,000. Now most people don’t have the time to do that which kind of entices you to spend money on the game buying more loot boxes for progression even though you just spent about £55 on the game already.
But here is something interesting I thought I should just point out; EA has done this (somewhat) before and one example is Battlefield 4. Now how they managed to tackle this was a lot better in a way, I would say. What they managed to do was they added in packs to the game that would let you bypass the grind so you could just pay money to have all the guns unlocked immediately by paying money (this only includes the base game items so no DLC items). How this is different to Battlefront II? In Battlefront II people use loot boxes to get Star Cards to get an edge over a player (and those are randomised) while in Battlefield 4 there was no loot boxes there was something called Battle Packs and Kit Shortcuts. Now with Battle Packs what you would get is weapon accessories and XP boosts while with Kit Shortcuts you unlocked all the guns or upgrades for your vehicles, you get what you pay for with the Kit Shortcuts (no need to pray to the RNG gods) and from what I’ve seen nothing really big happened from that. Interesting little story there isn’t it?
Now after all that backlash the players gave, EA did do something about it. What they did is they essentially made earning credits faster. They did this by rewarding the skilled players that come top on the leaderboards with more credits, for the end of the match they also give you more credits overall to make the game less grindy but the whole loot box system still stays within the game.
My opinion on the whole matter, and being a gamer myself, is when I heard that loot boxes were in Star Wars battlefront II, I thought to myself “if they are cosmetic items it’s okay” but when I heard about the whole Star Cards problem and also how much time it would take you to earn stuff within the game, I did feel put off on it. To summarise I think loot boxes are okay as long as it doesn’t make the game unbalanced in any way especially if it’s a multiplayer game, just keep it to cosmetics and also if possible find a reasonable way for those cosmetics to also be earned. The reason for that is they are just there to make your character look awesome and it doesn’t affect the balance within the game.