Loot Boxes Are Ruining Games
Gamers and dads of gamers beware. Microtransations are a thing of the future. And what a grim future it is.
While we’re excited for the future of gaming and upcoming game releases like Watchdogs: Legion, Cyberpunk 2077, the FFVII Remake, The Last Of Us 2, and more, there’s a more pressing issue steadily rising in the business.
It seems that as video game making becomes more expensive, companies are becoming more hostile to their customers (and their wallets) in an effort to break even or make a profit. Final Fantasy 15 was a major disappointment because the game’s story was split up into an animated move, a web series, several episodes of Downloadable Content, and more. Many of these factors had to be paid for outside of the base game.
The Sims 4 became the most egregious case of greed and cash grabs in the franchise yet, with base features like pools and toddlers being originally being eliminated in the base game and added to later packages/patches. The prices of which have escalated since earlier Sims installments.
And now, the rise of microtransactions and loot boxes have made many games intolerable and dangerous.
Loot boxes (or loot crates) have been a problem within the gaming world for years now. While mainstream audiences are fairly oblivious to this topic and controversy, gamers (and even casual players) have been annoyed by the subject for the past few years.
Loot boxes are consumable virtual items that allow users to get other virtual items, or loot, in a randomized (slot machine-like) fashion. (Think how video games often have treasure boxes with random items inside).
The problem arises with the fact that loot boxes are often used as a form of monetization by video game companies. Users will have to spend real-life money in order to get a loot box. Only thing is that the items inside are still randomized. That means users could spend money to still get the common items found in the game. As such, loot boxes have been compared to gambling. And not only are adults falling for these insidious monetization tactics, but kids are as well.
Loot Crates Are Creating Debts
Gamers are spending hundreds and thousands on loot boxes. Sometimes, they’re doing so without even realizing it.
A BBC News article from the start of July shared how two parents discovered their bank account was empty after their four children, all under the age of 10, had spent it all on a game. The father, Thomas Carter, originally bought a loot box for his sons on the Electronic Arts soccer game Fifa. The loot boxes in Fifa are called player packs and allow gamers to play with whatever player they receive in the pack.
Then when Thomas was away, the boys continued to buy player packs in a desire to get world-renowned player Lionel Messi. Unfortunately, the boys spend £550 on the game.
“You pay £40 for the game, which is a lot of money in itself, but then the only way to get a great team is essentially by gambling,” the father said.
“They spent £550 and they still never got their favourite player, Lionel Messi.”
Then later on in the month, BBC News came out with another article where several other families expressed similar problems.
One woman shared that her 22-year-old disabled son uses his iPad and Playstation for entertainment and educational purpose. Unfortunately, the son recently got into a game called Hidden Artifacts, which involves finding various items in a cluttered room.
“He has been charged £3160.58 between 18 February and 30 May 2019, clearing out his entire savings,” she explained. “I contacted iTunes, who were extremely helpful but were unable to refund the amount and suggested I contact Blastworks Ltd, the app developer and game provider.”
She later added, “It is extremely distressing that vulnerable people, such as my son, become victims of what is thought to be an educational game.”
A Scottish woman named Susan Taylor says her 16-year-old son spent £2,000 on another sports game.
“My 16-year-old son spent nearly £2,000 of my money on EA's NBA basketball game,” she shared. “He used my bank card and I didn't realise until I had a payment declined. He accessed the app via Google Play.”
One man from India shares that over eight months, his son has spent about £1,000 on Fortnite’s microtransactions.
“The issue was it was small cumulative amounts that don't seem significant until you add them up over eight months,” he said before adding, “He doesn't have Fortnite any more…”
Unfortunately, these are just a few of the many stories of debt and money loss associated with microtransactions and loot boxes. And while many government bodies are now getting involved and holding hearings to see if they need to regulate the practice, we all have to be vigilant in fighting it.
If you have had a run-in with loot boxes, loot crates, “surprise mechanics,” or whatever else gaming companies are calling the stuff, share your story. Tell your representative that you want video gaming companies to be held accountable for at least warning users of the dangers. And fight back against his growingly anti-consumer practice any way you can.