Here’s how some online game developers justify lockboxes

Yes, it’s apparently the Month of the Lockbox across the internet, as the level of discussion and controversy over how these items manipulate your mind and whether or not they constitute as gambling by ratings boards is ramping up.

The public might have a mixed view on lockboxes, but have you ever wondered what developers think? While some might well be quietly humiliated that these items sully their game by marketing degree, others have publicly justified their inclusion. GIbiz recently found that most studios won’t comment on loot boxes, but a handful of devs did step forward to speak about them. The common thread? Cost of making games is going up while box pricing is remaining static… and something has to give.

“Some big games are just not selling enough copies to make the development and marketing costs viable,” commented Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley. “Loot boxes mean more revenue from those who are interested.”

“Regardless of development costs, developers and publishers are going to attempt to make money — it’s a business,” added former Bungie developer Niles Sankey. “Developers have retirement to save for and families to feed… If people don’t like loot crates and microtransactions, they shouldn’t support the game by purchasing them.”

And former EA exec Ben Cousins made the bold claim that some companies seem more immune to criticism over this topic than others: “Blizzard gets a free pass on pretty much everything, as does Valve. Never try to get learnings from them, as they are outliers.”

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179 Comments on "Here’s how some online game developers justify lockboxes"

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Diego Camargo

I laugh, hard, everytime this topic is touched somewhere.

It is the same thing over and over: Boxes are gambling, companies are evil, companies are greedy, players don’t deserve that, this companies/devs are full of BS, etc etc etc etc

And yet, I fail to see players that do NOT back these bad behaviour.

Games are launched full of bugs and with paywalls with DLC content (even when the content is ALREADY in the game you biught) and yet, players pay for it.

MMOs are filling your eyes with pay options like boxes, and yet they are still there, and if they are there it is because gamers are buying this things. No business transaction will continue this long if they aren’t profitable.

I often see the ‘evil companies’ factor and I hardly see the ‘gamers are supporting this behaviour’ factor.

You wanna get rid of bad behaviour in the gaming industry? Don’t support bullshit!

If a company is known to do this over and over again, stop buying the 10000th version of Call Of Duty or whatever.
Stop buying games up front, months prior to release dates (because when the game is launched, your money is already theirs, they do not care about you later), stop paying for microtransactions that are nonsense (like paying hugely for LOTROs new expansion without the proper content), and I could go on and on…

Simple and I follow my advice, I don’t pay upfront for anything untill I see a project done and working properly, I don’t buy keys for boxes, if they are available in-game for gold or currency you can get playing, fine, you wanna my money? Give me something concrete in return like new classes packages (like Rift), etc etc etc

Again, look at yourself as a player and if you are feeding this business model and stop with the ‘one more doesn’t make any difference’. It does.

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johnwillo

They should sell two versions of games. The first, for $X, has lock boxes. The second, for 2 x $X replaces lock boxes with statistically similar drops from the lock box loot tables. Players of the second version of the game never see a lock box, lock box key, or an advertisement for lock boxes on the game store.

Sigh. A man can dream.

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mysecretid

“Never try to get learnings from them”??? Where did EA’s Ben Cousins learn to speak? Night-school on the Moon? Yeesh. He sounds like a cartoon caveman.

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mike foster

The Blizzard thing is an interesting point. I HATE the way Overwatch loot works (let me just buy the goddamn skin, duuuuuuude), but it doesn’t seem to generate nearly as much animosity as if say, EA did it that way.

BUT Overwatch is also a complete game — as in, once you buy it, you can play the shit out of it. Loot is cosmetic, in that case. I would imagine Blizzard does get a bit of leeway due to brand identity/track record/fandom, but I think they get clapped pretty good when they step out of line with what players expect.

There’s no question that loot boxes create HUGE flows of revenue and can be beneficial to both sides of the transaction — the tricky bit is making it feel fun for players and not being dicks about it. Probably depends on 1. design 2. loot table 3. cost and 4. a bunch of other stuff I don’t understand.

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Simon F

Overwatch is a good example of loot boxes done right in my opinion. It’s 100% cosmetic, which means that nobody gets any advantages. They are also fairly generous when it comes to free lootboxes, and during events, they make some skins more common.

While I don’t like loot boxes, I think that’s the least harmful way of doing it, while keeping revenue coming in. Then we have a game like League of Legends, which does have random skin unlocks, but what I don’t like about LoL is that there are just so many champions, and if you want to unlock them all, you’ll have to spend loads of money, or you’ll have to play way too much than is good for your mental and physical health.

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teppic

Jim Sterling did a good video on this topic and how it’s utter nonsense. The $60 tag these days is for a base game experience with often fundamental parts of the game missing, you may have to pay twice that to get the full experience, and on top of that they stick in microtransactions and lootboxes to cash in even more, sometimes with pay to win stuff.

The big studios make more and more each year and grab every penny they can get. This idea that they’re poor struggling companies just trying to get by is insulting.

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Grave Knight

Meanwhile Larian Studios (Divinity) has no lootboxes in their game. Or if we want the online game example, Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exiles) also lacks them. Also notice how it’s the triple-A studios that seem to need lootboxes the most?

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John Mynard

They also have a lot more staff that requires payment.

I will, again, point out Digital Extremes who reportedly have a staff of around 170 which is 1/3 the WoW development team alone at Blizzard and they seem to do just fine with cosmetics and paying to save time while turning out a game that outshines the significantly more expensive competition.

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Dear former EA baddie. Blizzard doesn’t lock progression or add P2W items.

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Eamil

No, but lockboxes are still objectively less beneficial to the consumer and more money-grubbing than “I give you money, you give me the exact specific cosmetic thing I want,” yet they replaced the latter with lockboxes in Heroes of the Storm after seeing how well it worked for them in Overwatch and people cheered them on for it.

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MolleaFauss

Lots of BS in the justification. Why don’t we put “lockboxes” in your electricity or internet supply? You have only 100MB a month of traffic, but if you buy lockboxes you may get more. Or not. Or voucher for tesco, or toys’r’us or mcdonalds or a NYT subscription.
Would those people like it? I doubt it.

Why don’t insurances do it for the pension plans? Give use some base contribution, and then if you get lucky you can get extra weeks of contribution free of charge, subsided by the other who play with us.

Let’s cut the BS. Lockboxes aren’t completely optional. They are becoming more and more part of the games. You *have* to open them to be better in the game or to get faster to the end.
Seriously, get back to the subscription model. Ask me 20 quid a month. Be honest and transparent, don’t fill your games with crap.

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MeltWithYou

Well since EA wants to shit all over Blizzard, maybe they should ask Blizzard how they manage to sell millions and millions of copies of each one of their games…most of which do not have lock boxes tied to progression. Maybe ask Rockstar how it manages to see millions of copies of GTA…or Red Dead. How about Bethesda, ask them about Elder Scrolls and Fallout.

My point is, the games (or franchises) I pointed out have a reputation of being great games…a reputation that has been built over many releases over many years.

EA has had a shitty reputation for being money grubbing whores for years…what are you guys doing to fix your reputation? Seems to me like you always figure out ways to dig that hole deeper and deeper. Mass Effect Andromedas a great example to use here, game came out to less than stellar reviews, they kinda fixed it and moved the fk on. What if Blizz did that to Diablo 3 when it came out?

Sounds like EA has a management problem that can’t see anything but green.

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mysecretid

You make an interesting point here that I don’t see a lot of people make when they talk about “good” versus “bad” companies — reputation over time.

It’s not only that “people like to bash EA, meanwhile Blizzard is beloved and gets a pass”.

There’s always going to be some of that, sure — there will always be blind fanbois and blind haters — I am reminded of comedian Katt Williams’ joke. “There are always going to be haters. Jesus only had twelve friends, and one of them was a hater”. :-D

But as you say, beyond the zealots on either side, most publishers have built their own reputations over time, through a pattern of decisions and actions.

People form opinions over time about publishers, based on what those companies do, and how the decisions those companies make affect those customers personally.

It’s not simply a question of, “Oh, Blizzard is the popular kid, so Blizzard always gets a pass”.

No, if Blizzard is “the popular kid”, then it’s because they’ve done enough things which made them popular with enough game-buyers that — whenever they do go off the rails — their reputation over time with most ordinary customers will buy them a short window of opportunity to redeem themselves, should they choose to take it.

Basically, Blizzard’s positive reputation built over time buys them a certain “benefit of the doubt” period with ordinary game-buyers.

EA, on the other hand, has burned up so much goodwill with game buyers, and their attitude has typically been “Suck it up, buttercup. Our profits are good, so talk to the hand” whenever customers question or complain, that they’ve actually eroded reputation over time.

Nobody gets a free pass out of thin air with most game-buyers — what they get is a reputation built over time with game buyers, based on how the publishers act (or are perceived to act) in relation to those buyers.

Thanks for emphasizing this. I do think it’s important.

Cheers,

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Paragon Lost

Well, this is what happens when you walk away from the subscription model and cater to content locust players who roam from mmo to mmo playing them like stand alone PC games. They want it for little to nothing and you’ve had to come on up with ways to make money, you the game developers sought out and catered to this type of player and they are now the norm.

You’re now in a bind, how to make money so that you can stay in business, pay salaries, maintain content, build new content, pay for building space, insurances, retirement, hardware costs since most of you lease server space etc.

The mmo and mmorpg market is saturated with too many out there thinking that they can operate like mobile games and stay in business. Bluntly it’s a shit show anymore and it’s not looking like it’s gonna get better and you’ve embraced an ugly business model that affects game development, player experience and developer experience in a negative way. Free to play…bravo folks.

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Jon-Enee Merriex

The subscription model does not support games without huge numbers of subscribers. Remember prior to WoW that was 250K. However, now players want WoW quality. Blizzard can get away with a $14.99 sub because they have 10M players. Outside of the top 10 MMOs, most games don’t come near that many users AND for the FTP game, the majority (75%+) of those players don’t pay monthly.

This is just like how Wal-Mart killed the Mom&Pop store. Mass quantities allow for lower prices. If you’re going to have a game that only has about 100K users, 14.99 will not pay the bills.

100K x 14.99 = $1,499M / Month x 12 = 17,988M. Let’s round that up to a cool $18M a year.

For a WoW-sized game with that population, you’re looking at about $250K a month. So that’s $3M a year.

CDNetwork fees will probably run about $1M a year, assuming you do 4 big updates a year and not a lot of other patching. You’re not getting voice-overs on this budget and the music may be REALLY repetitive.

A team of 100 (this includes HQ, Finance, Devs, QA, everybody) x avg salary of $80K = $8M + 100 x benefits/bonuses of $20K per person = $2M = $10M in personnel costs.

So now, you’ve spent $14M but no one knows about your game. “Well, if it’s good people will come play it.” Not really, actually. People don’t play what they don’t know. And, even IF you have people playing the game, they will leave. For reasons that have nothing to do you with you. They go into the military, they go to college, they have children. You need to constantly replace those people, every month.

At the end of the day, you need to be spending at least 50% of your budget on marketing. But wait, our budget was the $18M we were making. And we’ve spent $14M just making the game. So we’re now in the hole by $5M.

To that I say, welcome to game development. It is a highly competitive business and it is near impossible to get right and your consumers hate you for just about everything, including but not limited to: asking them for any money.

The reality is, the subscription price shouldn’t be $14.99. It should be $25. That changes the equation substantially. Now you’re bringing in $30M a year. With $15M spent on marketing, $14M on operating costs and $1M in profit. The profit is probably low, but you are no longer sucking.

I say all that to say, the idea that everything should just be a sub, doesn’t work unless everyone is paying fair value. Currently, players think $50 per box and $14.99 per month is fair value, while developers understand it is MUCH higher than that. If a game was in development for 4 years that would mean $10M x 4 = $40M / 100K = $400 per player in the first year to make a full return on investment.

At $15 per month and $50 per box, you’re not going to cover that spread with so few people. Now, if you’re planning to average 100K people, you need to launch to at least 5 times that – which WILL help you cover that spread, but we’re still talking about a box that needs to cost $60-75 and a monthly cost of $25.

NOTE: I did not include any costs like, where is everyone going to work? What are they working on, notebook paper? Utilities, Insurance, Company Outings and so much more. And no, $1M won’t come close to covering all that for $100 people.

Obligatory Full Disclosure: I currently work in the gaming industry and have for over a decade. I’ve worked on large AAA titles and small games you’ve never heard of. This post is solely my opinion, from my personal experience, and in no way reflects my company or its stance on this or any issue.

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mike foster

I would like to point out that Blizzard’s original break-even sub base for WoW was 200k-ish. The game’s success helped build a lot of other things (and really fucked up expectations for publishers getting into the MMO market), but you don’t NEED massive sub numbers to support an MMO if you build it with a realistic goal (which is what Blizz did).

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John Kiser

Subscription costs shouldn’t realistically move at all. In fact for awhile they should of been coming down as a major cost factor was actually the internet bill and this is no longer the case. Games used to get by just fine with 250k – 500k and some people need to understand that a game can actually “survive” just fine with those numbers and churn out content.

The problem with those numbers ultimately is that publishers see the gorilla in the room with WoW or FFXIV (these days I think FFXIV has more players and is getting close to WoW’s subs in its hayday) and expect those numbers for a game to be a “success”. So the publishers are wanting millions upon millions of players when the market isn’t really like that to begin with.

The MMORPG genre is niche outside of the bigger IP names out there and if publishers stopped chasing lofty dreams trying to emulate WoW and the like they’d probably remember that. They should be developing their games with a realistic goal in mind ultimately. My other qualm is this argument that games are getting “more expensive” to develop.

There are definitely more man hours put in the more detailed we get however the tools are also getting better and cheaper and it no longer is a crazy amount of money to get an engine or game going for a lot of the middleware tech out there. Also where is this argument that around 1.5 mill won’t support a company of 100 people? If you had 100k subs at 14.99 you are looking at 1.499 mill a month which would give each employee a pretty solid 10k+ a month (assuming you paid everyone equally, if you have diff position blah blah blahj) so you are looking at a potential payout to employees of 120k or more a year before taxes (and that’s going to be a small studio).

Most big studios would garner more subs than that and typically speaking have more games than a single game going. The subscription model would be unsustainable at 25 dollars a month as quite frankly we all know where that would end up leading ( a mass exodus in player bases and you’d have a much smaller player base as a result). Games are getting more expensive because of voice acting and quite often using “famous” people to do voice work in games such as Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Spacey, Christopher Meloni and I could go on with that list.

I’d just like to see MMORPG publishers go into things with realistic expectations. If you are making what amounts a themepark game reminiscent of WoW and it isn’t pretty much as “good” as WoW to people you aren’t going to justify any price for the game to a large number of people. FFXIV is doing well because they learned from mistakes with 1.0, and are now releasing content on a regular basis in-between updates and keeping their player base more and more happy.

You do need to remember that these games are bringing in monthly profits to a company and often times unless it is the studios only game they don’t have everyone that worked on the game doing content or server related stuff. Breaking stuff down I truly wish that people would just attempt to understand that loot boxes are a thing that supports developers / publishers and while I think they need to give a realistic number to people to tell them what the “loot table” rates are, I don’t view them in a light where I have to have them particularly in games where any of those items are earnable or buyable in game in some fashion (such as the case with Shadow of War, the loot boxes literally only effecct the MP element of the game which is realistically not all that important if you are playing it for single player, not to mention you can buy loot boxes with in game currency)

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Jon-Enee Merriex

I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. Just because you are using a game engine does not mean you have a game developed. Game engines support the creation of the game. You still have to MAKE the game. That takes engineers and coders to write the code of the game. Using a game engine saves you time, but it is still 3-4 years to develop a full game.

This post reads like someone who’s never made a game before. My numbers don’t include a bunch, such as a website, payment gateway, taxes (oh God the TAXES!!!), Fraud, customer support, community, PR. You look at that $1.5M a month and think “that’s a lot of money” but that money goes really quick.

So yeah, getting an engine has dropped in price, but that engine is a small part of the bigger picture.

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Paragon Lost

I understand that and actually have mentioned that sort of break down before. I also agree that the subscription monthly rate should be closer to that $25.00 a month. :) Great break down btw. I no longer really have the patience to go into long detailed posts because I’ve been doing them off and on since the F2P business model really took off and I figured everyone was pretty tired of having me drone on and on about it.

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zeko_rena

If the game isn’t selling well how about stop being fucking lazy and make an effort to figure out why the game isn’t selling well and improve upon it instead of just going “lockboxes”

Also if they would stop selling the same copy and paste shit over and over and tried to actually be innovative maybe that would help with sales.

How do they think video games survived back in the day

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John Kiser

Back in the days before WoW, publishers were realistic. WoW created a gorilla in the room and publishers got dollar signs for eyes and started to chase that WoW money. Gamers have also sort of become sort of more pretentious and snobby as gaming has become more mainstream. Publishers used to realize what was and was not a niche genre and knew that the MMORPG genre was really kind of niche. The concurrent highest s ub count before WoW was around 500k people at the pinnacle of things and publishers now consider those numbers to be failures.

There is also only so many ways to be innovative and once you exhaust them what then eventually you hit that wall of unable to really do much. Themepark point and click MMORPG’s largely have felt the same since they were a thing largely because there just isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room outside of experimenting with how quests are presented, crafting methods, our how classes are handled (lets say rift style vs WoW for instance).

There is also the fact that loot boxes/cosmetics generally tend to pull in a larger income than simply doing a sub model and not to mention more people are willing to risk trying your game if there is no barrier to entry whether it be good or not.. Many f2p mmorpgs are not bad in the least, but we do have a rather over-saturated game market compared to the older days. Many people jump around multiple games now and they aren’t going to spend 15 a month on a few games. Ultimately while loot boxes may be distasteful to a small minority of us most don’t actually give a shit and happily use them,.

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Lethality

Uh, the market wasn’t over-ridiculously-saturated “back in the day” like it is now. A video game came out and you bought it, because there wasn’t another one coming for maybe months. Today, they are released every day.

There are too many games and not enough players. The cost to make each game doesn’t take that into account though…

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zeko_rena

I don’t see the market being saturated as an excuse to be lazy.
Make a innovative high quality product and you won’t have an issue.

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Lethality

Those don’t have anything to do with each other. In fact, the market is filled with amazing creative and technical achievements – but players only have so much time and so much money. Market saturation.

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Paragon Lost

Actually that’s a good point Lethality. The market is indeed very saturated and too many mmo developers instead of focusing on the various types of sub genres of mmos are trying to be the everything to everyone mmo on top of that.

Which just leads to more and more content locust players who roam from mmo to mmo devouring the content that’s free. Vicious circle.

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Sorenthaz

Well that’s kind of a ‘no duh’, cost of games continues to rise because they keep trying to push for greater graphics and so on even though that stuff does not make the game better and in many cases has lead to games being more and more dumbed down so that they can appeal to wider audiences.

The problem is that they already often ask for $40-$60 worth of extra DLC on top of the $60 initial price, often locking day one content behind paywalls as well. Throwing in gambling boxes to make ends meet just reeks of how bad AAA game development has grown if it’s hit such an unsustainable point.

Maybe instead of continually finding ways to screw over players by making them cough up more money for the same experience they could buy for $50 10 years ago, game companies should take a step back and re-evaluate wtf they’re doing. So many games can still look great without costing hundreds of millions to make. Indie games succeed because they offer fun and engaging gameplay that most AAA games lack. Like, come on… at this point the only way AAA developers will ever wake up is when they crash and burn because they try to reach for too much $$$ and can’t make ends meet from how much development costs continue to rise.

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Rottenrotny

Ok, so.

Why did game companies do so well back when games were $50+ and always came with a physical game box, instruction manual etc. Now they’re mostly digital for the same price, plus deluxe editions, DLC, cash shops etc.. and they can’t make $?!

I’m not sure I believe games are selling less now. There are more gamers now than ever.

Something doesn’t add up.

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Mr_Planthead

Because those games didn’t come with servers that needed constant upkeep or patch content that added new things to the game. If a million people buy a game and no one else does how long do you think the developer can keep the servers running before they need to get money somehow

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Paragon Lost

More gamers who don’t really pay for content if they can avoid it. Game developers by and large moved to the terrible F2P model and then had to figure out how to make money to stay in business, build new content etc. The problem is the free to pay players don’t want to pay for “anything” at all. So the game developers aren’t earning much on a month to month basis.

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Sorenthaz

Because the cost for development has risen much much higher since then? With all the graphical improvements and voice acting and so on, it comes at a greater cost. That’s part of why AAA MMOs have died out (we aren’t seeing any new ones beyond indie/crowdsourced projects at this point) is because the cost to make them has grown exponentially over time and the audience just isn’t there for to sustain any newer attempts.

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NeoWolf

I’m afraid they don’t get to use cost of development as an excuse, because the cost of games has also gone up, one offsetting the other..

It is what it always is, an Developer excuse to cover for the lack of decent game design, which leads to lack of appeal, which leads to falling sales, which leads to F2p conversions and lockbox hell.

The fix is simple, don’t make sh** games to begin with, listen to their audience, understand what it is they want and produce accordingly. You know.. like they used to until they got lazy and complacent and more interested in pushing the kind of game they want, rather than want to the people whoare paying for them want.

You look at the developers doing well..and what I describe above is what you see. i.e people paying attention and making games that fit their audiences wants, not the developers wants.

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Wakkander

$50 dollars back in
-1986 with inflation would be $110.44 today.
-1996 with inflation would be $78.64 today.
$60 dollars back in 2006 with inflation would be $73.61 today.

Games have increased in expense to make, and not increased in cost alongside inflation.

Team sizes have gone from dozens to hundreds, and with every advance in graphics those requirements only go up. Then add in the needs for actors for motion capture, line readings. We expect more from games today so there are orchestral soundtracks and professional writers. And none of it is cheap and all of those have increased in expense with inflation.

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Lethality

Cost of games really hasn’t gone up, at all. In fact, back in the day, I paid $90 for Wing Commander – that was the going rate.

But recently, prices have gone down with the indie presence and mobile market, ranging .99 to 9.99 isn’t uncommon.

Triple-A games in the modern era have been $60 forever.

Something does have to give.

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John Kiser

Something to keep in mind though. With digital distribution being the norm (particularly for PC games as most places aren’t selling boxes for them any more) you are saving a chunk of costs too (particularly if you are say EA or ubisoft and can have your own store fronts).

Runic the guys that made torchlight actually went on about this at length that basically said charging 20 – 30 dollars now would of been like charging 50 – 60 back in the day for a game largely because of how much money brick and mortar stores were charging people. So we ended up in a situation where the “cost” for the customer (in the US) hasn’t substantially gone up, but the companies are also keeping a larger share of profits than they were back in the day.

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NeoWolf

Except you and wakkander are both basing these statements off what you pay in the U.S except games aren’t only sold or produced in the U.S they are produced and sold worldwide.

And I can tell you CATEGORICALLY prices for games have gone hugely here in the UK, which is an aside from the fact we were already paying way more than you guys do for them to begin with.

And there is a reason many games are produced in Europe rather than elsewhere these days and that is because it is cheaper to produce in those places.. and that is in case where games are produced at a single studio when indeed these days most are produced in parts ALL OVER the place because of cost reduction, cheaper wages costs etc..

So again development copsts as an excuse is BS.

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Sorenthaz

And that’s why nowadays they tack on $40 ‘digital passes’ or digital deluxe editions or whatever, try to charge upward of like $60 for individual DLCs, throw in extra vanity/cosmetic DLCs, and nowadays are even starting to resort to using lockboxes in games where it doesn’t make sense to have them.

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Schmidt.Capela

Reminds me of a fun quote a long time ago, when a Nintendo exec was saying that they didn’t expect New Super Mario Bros Wii to sell as well as, say, Call of Duty, but they didn’t need it to because NSMBW was far cheaper to make and would turn as much a profit even with far less sales.

And then NSMBW proceeded to sell more than any Call of Duty, before or since.

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blahlbinoa .

If you want us to pay for gambleboxes, especially in mainstream AAA games, lower the damn price! 60 dollars plus 10 dollars a pop is not good for selling your games. Make them 30 if you want to add microtransactions. Jim Sterling did an awesome piece on this.

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Sorenthaz

They can’t afford to do that because the whole reason they’re throwing in gamble boxes is because they need more $$$ but know that raising the initial box price would generate a truckton of backlash.

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John Kiser

Gamble boxes and cosmetics and the like have proved to be a more profitable business venture is why they do it. They don’t “need to” , but no producer/developer that is business minded is simply going to want to make the profits they “need”.

By ” using lockboxes in games where it doesn’t make sense to have them.” you are likely referencing shadow of war. Now let me state this for everyone with some kind of problem with that. Shadow Of War’s system is fine. The lootbox scenario in it effects a little bit of a psuedo-online mode that with grinding for cash and the like you can easily get into yourself.

I get more and more annoyed by people claiming paying to speed things up is somehow p2w. Let’s also keep in mind that the entire lootbox situation on shadow of war has no real bearing on the single player experience at all. It is still a fun game, you are handed loot like it is candy really and if you bother you know actually playing the game and doing side missions you are never going to be at some serious disadvantage.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

What if game companies charged $100 instead of $60? Remember the outrage when it was decided that SSG didn’t provide enough value for the cost of their expansion packs? How does a publisher charge a fair value for their product?

The price of games is ridiculously low. Publishers have backed themselves into a corner by attempting to undercharge the market in order to make up the discounted cost in volume, something that probably works if you sell a million copies and doesn’t if you sell far less.

They’ve created a monster of a gaming community by raising up a generation of gamers who think all games should be free and if they aren’t, not to worry, just wait til it’s cracked. And gamers have fallen into shadow by believing that they should have it all for free and then complain that it wasn’t enough.

There’s no way that this is healthy, either for game makers or game players.

It’s all well and good to be altruistic when you’re twenty and working 80 hours and having fun. It’s another when you’re fifty, have a mate, kids, mortgage, the whole nine yards, and staring down at the short end of your career and the life you can expect when you can no longer work those 80 hours a week.

Applying the same moral standard gamers apply to themselves, why shouldn’t they have everything? Why shouldn’t they take what they can from the system? If they discover an exploit, why shouldn’t they use it? Gamers take whatever they can suck out of developers and publishers, why shouldn’t the reverse be true?

Gamers act as though lootboxes are the definition of moral turpitude when the gaming community has supported cracked games, bots, cheats, hacks and exploits of every kind for decades.

So excuse me while a get this salt off my desk.

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Paragon Lost

“They’ve created a monster of a gaming community by raising up a generation of gamers who think all games should be free and if they aren’t,” -Ashfyn

This. With the caveat that gamers were asking for such and game developers leaped on a change of business model without thinking it through and how it would negatively impact the long term gaming experience and their revenue. This was a vicious cycle that the F2P model created that then fed off of itself .

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Sorenthaz

I think the gaming industry needs to take several steps backwards and re-evaluate wtf they’re doing, because it’s pretty clear they can’t make ends meet without continually asking for more and more money using whatever side-grub tactics possible. We’re already seeing mobile game/F2P monetization leak into games like Shadows of War and Battlefront 2. Yet we could get those games with less graphical insanity and have the same gameplay experience at a more comfortable cost for both the developers and the customers…

Like really at the end of the day it seems to be all about graphics and pushing games to their limits. I personally don’t understand why there is this obsession with making games look better and better when gameplay takes a hit and more and more content is locked behind paywalls or RNG boxes.

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Dantos

That depends, does the $100 game have a season pass and/or other DLC?

The issue with charging higher box prices, from their point of view, im sure, is that there is a fixed maximum $ amount per player that they can get. With Micro transactions/loot boxes there isnt.

And no, gamers do not “suck” whatever they can out of devs, they can only take what they are offered by the devs/publishers

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NeoWolf

If a game is good enough and appealing enough it will sell itself.. points at WoW. Love it, hate it..makes no difference but succcessful they are and not a lockbox in sight.

Developers should stop making excuses for poor design and inability to listen to their audience skills to justify compensating their deficiencies by nickel and diming content to their audience to fill the financial gap.

Do better!

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John Kiser

WoW released at a time that gaming was becoming more acceptable, they had a massive advertising budget, they had a well liked established IP, they didn’t have a heavily flooded marketplace, WoW only really only gained popularity because of so many factors. If we were going by how “good” a game is on release for success then EQ2 would be the gorilla in the room instead of WoW as despite the bugs in EQ2 it was a substantially better game at the time.

The thing is SOE had no real advertising budget compared to blizzard and everquest as a franchise also had a stigma as being for “nerds”and the like at the time. WoW’s success early on couldn’t be repeated if they had come into the marketplace if the marketplace were like it is today in all honesty.

Not to mention this statement is far off base to begin with. First off there have been games that have done “WoW like” better than WoW since it came out. I’ve played pretty much every mmorpg you can think of and there are some that are just better than WoW. The issue tends to be a few things.

Firstly those that play WoW tend to stick to WoW and while they may “venture” into other games many don’t want to pay a sub for multiple games (hence the drop off after the first month many times). Then there is the attitude of “I don’t want to start over in a new game” or gamers not wanting to risk trying a different game. I’ve seen people say “this game is too different from WoW” and I’ve seen people say “This game feels a lot like WoW I might as well just go play WoW” they always find an excuse to go back to that “one game” that they really want to be playing even if the other games might be better.

The MMORPG market is still a niche market and outside of established IPs it is largely hard to get the WoW or FFXIV numbers. You are also suggesting developers listen to their player base when making games and yet the only people that often speak up are a very very vocal minority and the majority aren’t really sure “what they want”.

If you make a good game people will find a way to try and tear it down to justify staying in WoW.

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NeoWolf

Blizzard had made a couple of successful strat games they definitely did NOT have massive marketing budget. And their were WAY more studios than them who had sold more games and made more money. What they did get right was a formula for agame that appealed to the masses. A formula that many since have tried to copy but not very..hence why it has ended up stale and bland with numerous its just like wow or its not wow comparisons you mention.

MMORPG’s are not a niche market, but certain kinds of play and mmos are niche i.e PVP mmos (although admitedly their has been a surge in their popularity in recent months).

I am absolutely suggesting they listen to their customers yes, because customers will as you point out tear down what they don’t like vocally and tell you what they want. There is simply no better way to determine what your audience wants than to ask them directly because they will tell you in 100% unfiltered honesty warts and all.
Time and again we see MMO’s pushed out that fit what a DEVELOPER wants and wants to make with the assumption they will find an audience because if we want it surely someone else will..and as we also see time and again that isn’t try, most end up niche games, with a big surge day one and then a few months down the line all they have is a relatively small loyal fanbase.
Why? because they didn’t ask their audience what they wanted in the first place, instead they assumed they already knew the answer.

Market research exists for a reason..to know your audience. And with MMO’s announced so far ahead it is a relatively simple matter to guage and engage with your community in early development in order to find out what they want and steer the ship accordingly.

Instead we have a situation still where developers push their dream design on us with no care or real interest in what they people who will be paying for it want in a game and so they invariably bomb, or don’t make enough monye because they didn’t retain enough interest and they go F2P… and when that happens the ONLY way they know to make quick and easy money is with lockboxes… other desireable content in an RNG gambling format and people will drop cash hard because they all want the desireable items.. the carrot as it were. However most don’t get the carrot and as with any gambling the only real winner is the house..or in our case the developer.

Lockboxes then become the main stay of content drops, most other content becomes few and far between in development as the only thing they have any interest in is maintaining the cash flow (understandably) and the only means they have for that is their lockboxes.

It is a sad, disatisfying, unrewarding nickel and diming business model where everyone suffers, the game, the audience, even the developers because they are then dependant upon having to use lockboxes in order to get the money to keep the game going it is a NO WIN situation, business model all around where all anyone does is tread water and noone is truly happy.

However listen to your audience, nail a decent design, produce a decent game, support it senisbly, be open but not overly open with your community and you will maintain interest and numbers and can keep a subscription game. No lockboxes.. happy world. ;)

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Dušan Frolkovič

Blizzard did much more with WoW than just release it and watch it get bought.
it was a game from an established studio in an established franchise.
It got marketed heavily (remember those “I play WoW” clips with celebrities?).

If you make a great game and just silently release it somewhere, it will fail, horribly.
You need to make a good game AND market it properly.

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Eduardo da Fonseca

“The public might have a mixed view on lockboxes” No! The public has a very straight view of it, everybody hates it. Those loot boxes may be the worst plague ever to mmorpg universe. I don’t mind pay for stufff but if everything was direct sale ok, but spend 100 bucks to not get what you want is gamble and crazy. That’s why people prefer to buy gold from those gold sellers to get stuff, which breaks the whole system. That’s why I miss games like CoH both subscription days or even their f2p. Big studios are those responsible for the increase of indie games cause we the community can stand those models anymore.

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John Kiser

No there is a mixed view on it. You seem to forget that those that actually use gaming sites and the like such as massively are a vocal minority. If everyone “hates” it it would not be a viable business model as everyone would just ignore them and not use them. The contrary is the truth realistically. The small vocal minority that frequent sites and complain dislike them, but the majority of people (ie the people playing more heavily) actually tend to not give a shit or even enjoy them.

I hate this idea that somehow “we” that use sites and complain are somehow the entire public or the entire scope of what gamers think. Are you and some other people so full of themselves with self importance to think that you represent the majority when you in fact do not?

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John Mynard

STO has lockboxes and I just ignore them, I let them stack up for a while then toss them in the trash.

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Bree Royce

City of Heroes F2P was one of the first MMOs with paid gambleboxes, I fear. It was much more benign back then, but we were complaining all the while.

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Fervor Bliss

“But what little I’d heard had left me amazed by how clever people were at finding ways to make each other crazy and miserable.”
Neal Stephenson, Anathem

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Robert Mann

1. Make better games, if the game is worthy enough it tends to start getting more and more sales.

2. Yes, a few companies have massive fan-bases that will not see the evils of their favored studios until something is extraordinarily bad. Go earn your own such base by pushing really high quality products with new ideas… XD

Questions, oh CEOs who can’t figure it out on their own?

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CapnLan

It was mentioned down below, but I’ll give another shout out to Warframe for having a great F2P model with no lockboxes. That’s right, no lockboxes at all. No boxes that litter the map and clog up your inventory. No keys to buy and no obnoxious messages that fly across your screen alerting you that xXx_YOLOSWAG420NOSCOPE_xXx has unlocked Excalibur Umbra Prime from Lockbox Prime.

And yet, despite the fact that the game has no lockboxes it has managed to stay within the top 10 games on Steam for a long time now. The player base has grown considerably as of late, thanks in no small part to Plains of Eidolon. Digital Extremes itself is now expanding out to a new studio location and has started developing other games. It’s proof that a free to play game can not only survive without lockboxes, it can thrive. It’s just that other devs see the quick cash in lockboxes and then make excuses about it.

That’s why Warframe is getting all my money right now. They put their stuff right in the cash shop. That awesome new Syandana and deluxe skin they just released? Right in the shop. I bought it without hesitation. What you see is what you get. That’s how I like it and that’s why DE gets my cash.

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Dušan Frolkovič

While i do love me some Warframe, and they do not have Lockboxes in todays sense of the word. They do still thread the very fine line of grind vs. buy. If somebody actually managed to farm “potatoes” (orokin reactors and catalysts) for each of their frames/weapons, i envy you, cause you have the patience of an angel.

So no lockboxes, but they do know how to motivate you to buy stuff in the shop.

CapnLan
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CapnLan

This is true, but this is how a good F2P model should work IMO. I’ll take grinding up some stuff and buying some stuff outright from the shop over lockboxes any day.

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Dušan Frolkovič

I totally agree. :)

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teh evilengineer

warframe has lockboxes, they were of such terrible value they became little more than a noob trap. The random mod pack would be more of a thing if fashion frame hadn’t been laughably lucrative.

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CapnLan

The difference is that nothing in those mod packs is exclusive, which is how lockboxes are operating these days. Everything in those mod packs can be attained in game for free just by playing. In all the years I’ve been playing I don’t know anyone who has actually bought mod packs. I even forgot they existed as they have basically no influence on the game or business model.

Dantos
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Dantos

I keep forgetting they have mod packs. Most people I know just buy the few mods they need from other players, far cheaper.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah and most mods aren’t too difficult to farm. Some of them are of course (like Rage or Berserker…) but those can be traded for with platinum if you’re unable to get super lucky. Also daily login rewards can sometimes give you up to a 75% discount on Platinum which is insanely generous, to the point where buying platinum isn’t that bad.

Plus IMO whenever they have Prime Vault bundles those are often worth it and those include a chunk of platinum as well.

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John Mynard

Rage and Berserker are “rare”? I’ve got several and I’ve never even tried to farm them. Condition Overload on the other hand…

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Sorenthaz

Last I checked, Rage is a stupid low % drop off specifically Grineer Napalms. Berserker is only dropped by Corrupted Ancients at like a .60% chance.

So yeah they have incredibly low odds of dropping even if you’re running Survivals.

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Rheem Octuris

I think the actual problem is the number of games being made has vastly increased but the number of people playing them has not.

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Sorenthaz

Also more and more games demand more time out of players.

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Paragon Lost

That’s not true Sorenthaz. Mmorpgs have always demanded more time from players, dating back to when they were text based MUDS. Other MMO’s might not have demanded much time and effort but mmorpgs always have.

It’s a part of what makes an mmorpg an mmorpg. You immerse yourself into the game world and the more time you spend in it the more you get out of it. Versus say a FPS or MOBA which both have a much narrower scope of depth and immersion.

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Rheem Octuris

I would say the require less if anything. I remember having to camp stuff for hours in EverQuest just to get one specific loot drop.

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John Kiser

MMORPG’s by and large part require far far less of a time commitment than they used to. Even vanilla WoW required more of a time commitment than WoW today.

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Greaterdivinity

“Blizzard gets a free pass on pretty much everything, as does Valve. Never try to get learnings from them, as they are outliers.”

I’ll back him up on this. The disparity between how a lot of media were breathlessly writing/recording their experiences opening dozens of Overwatch lockboxes, only to have them turn around and shit all over lockboxes from any other developer, is a particular bee on my bonnet.

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Sorenthaz

At least Overwatch keeps it to vanity/cosmetics only and the entry price is only $40. Not to mention you can get loot boxes simply from playing the game on a regular basis.

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Paragon Lost

Exactly, Blizzard gets that if it’s limited to vanity/cosmetic fluff they’re safe and won’t by and large cause a revolt.

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Robert Mann

Aye, a few companies do… but again if other companies put out really great work they’ll get the fan-blindness effect too. Until, of course, the company does really bad work.

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Rhime

I think if “studios won’t comment” then we can agree that even they think lockboxes are a shady (and shitty) method of getting our or our kid’s money. Find a better and more appropriate way people….

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Dug From The Earth

“Some big games are just not selling enough copies to make the development and marketing costs viable,”

Maybe make a better game then?

This seems to be developers who produce mediocre products, and then complain that they arent making enough money on them. Or, publishers whose only goal is to make sure the current year brings in more money than the last, even if its WAY more than they actual need for the game to be profitable.

In either case, ive got no pity or sympathy for them. Most everyone else in the world has to work hard if they want to make good money. Lockboxes are just a deceptive and low ball scheme to take a shortcut around working hard.

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Bhima Jenkins

Amen. And I find this response hilarious:

“Developers have retirement to save for and families to feed… If people don’t like loot crates and microtransactions, they shouldn’t support the game by purchasing them.”

We should do exactly as he says, then he won’t be able to have a retirement or feed his family.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Right? I’m so glad that gamers don’t have retirement to save for and families to feed. Break out the credit cards, guys, we gotta provide for freakin’ EA, which prefers gambling profits to actual quality game development.

The tone-deafness of this.

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Mr_Planthead

One is a job and one is a hobby

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Nathan Aldana

yeah. speaking as someone who does spend money on MMO cash shops sometimes. even I think gameleboxes are ridiculous, because theres no way to know at all what you’re paying for. Its the same reason i dont buy lottery tickets.

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Jack Kerras

First of all, AAA games cost the same now as they cost many years ago; I was pissed (as was the whole of the video-game-buying public) when the ‘normal price’ of games went from 49.99 to 59.99, and apparently the first few games to sell at that price point took a SIGNIFICANT hit. Now: this is probably because they were also XBox 360 games, which means only early adopters were around to make purchases, but still, I think it’s obvious that game prices have NOT kept up with inflation even the tiniest bit. My 2-bed apartment from a decade ago was $600 a month at one point and that same one is up for $1150, and WAY shittier now, I must imagine.

The first person to release their game for 69.99 is gonna get fucking mauled on the open market, they’re going to sell nothing, and they’ll never make another game.

As a result, what they do is they sell value-added packs with special skins or cool-looking swords, so people who don’t wish to pay them what the game is worth can buy the regular pack and then moan about DLC for the rest of their natural fucking lives. They can also sell lockboxes as a way to help bolster that purchase.

If we don’t want lockboxes, we have to accept that games are going to cost more. Games were $60 ten years ago and they’re $60 now, and bumping to $60 made the first few early-adopters of that price range suffer.

At what point do we realize that they are undercharging for the base game, and that we legitimately should be paying more than that now that we’re a dozen years beyond the last baseline game-cost bump, and accept that instead of doing this they’ve chosen to go with lockboxes so that they don’t lose fucking scads of business by being ‘greedy’?

They’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t, unless they want to bypass the whole publisher situation entirely. Not everyone can be Digital Extremes, but Warframe has a pretty great F2P model, and every publisher on the planet scoffed at their initial pitch.

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Bhima Jenkins

Can’t really use rent/mortgage as a trend of pricing on all other consumable items. It is clear that housing has gone up at a ridiculous rate compared to the rest of the costs in the economy.

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Robert Mann

I do think that game box prices are due to go up, but at the same time there’s only a few studios with a solid reputation for producing quality products that are big enough in scope to justify the purchase.

It’s a problem of game developers producing mediocre crud left and right on demand for publishers and business executives… and those business people expecting sales to be top tier. The developers are caught between two interests, and it is very sad.

Dantos
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Dantos

$60 isnt always for the full game. Nearly everything has a $15-20 season pass, sometimes more. If you want everything thats going to be in the game, you’ll usually be paying $75+, Thats not even counting lockboxes and microtransactions.

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Sorenthaz

In general for the big AAA games it’s more upward of $100-$120 that you end up spending on both the base game, season pass, and any other extra stuff.

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Schmidt.Capela

In which case I will typically put it on my wishlist but wait a couple years until I can get a pack with the game and all DLC for $15.

In other words, if you ask for up to $60 total — either because the game won’t have paid-for DLC or lockboxes, or because the base game plus everything optional costs up to $60 and looks worthy of its asking price — you might get my $60 at launch; if you ask for more, chances are good you will get from me far less than that and at a much later date.

Caveat, I only purchase offline games together with all their DLC. So there is little to no chance of myself just getting the $60 base game and leaving the DLC behind, or resigning to purchase the DLC at a later date.

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Arktouros

I’ve noticed that people seem to have a great sense of entitlement that every game should be catered to their preferences. That includes myself. It’s like the very idea that a new game comes out with something we dislike is somehow personally offensive to us. Loot crates? How dare they! $30 costumes? The nerve! DLCs? They must have lost their minds.

If a game company wants to cram loot crates, subscriptions, upsells and otherwise in their various games I say go for it. Go completely nuts. If they can find a sustainable business model that lets them sell less copies of a game due to higher prices then they should do it. Just don’t expect me to be on board with it or buy into it. Just like I wouldn’t pay subscriptions for shitty MMO games I have no plans to buy or support single player games with equally shitty game play and business models.

Personally speaking I don’t care. In this day and age we are literally drowning in sources of entertainment. It’s just as easy to take my $60 and get my entertainment elsewhere. Frankly I see people crying about loot-boxes and I roll my eyes at this point. What blessed lives we lead that we have nothing better to do than whine over our entertainment.

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Michael18

If you see games just as an ordinary product, then you are right. And this is a valid perspective, of course.

But for someone who truly cares about games and the craftsmanship involved in creating them, or might even see them as an art from, it is legitimate to regret a development such as the wide-spread introduction of F2P mechanics into AAA, full-price titles. Mostly because those mechanics, loot boxes among them, are not merely yet another form of payment. They fundamentally influence the design, presentation, and reception of a game as an interactive experience.

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kgptzac

Entertainment is relative. A web comic can move me more than a big screen million dollar blockbuster movie, and someone else may find a totally opposite experience, and it’s completely fine by me.

I consider video games an art form, just like movies and books. All of these media have conflicts among creating a truly visionary presentation, and those demanded by their industry and consumers. It also brings up the question: are all entertainment media are arts? Can all forms of arts be some kind of entertainment? And if true, then can you enjoy something both as an art form, but also a contemporary entertainment, simultaneously without having to switch lenses?

I tend to say yes. Art is an idea; a wild one even. Remember that crazy Chinese guy wrote a book called The Art of War? Ok, I jest (translation to be blamed). A video game isn’t the art form which you just need to stare at it for an amount of time, preferably uninterrupted, to enjoy. It is more akin to a machine, as you may understand through its interactive nature. Some parts of the machine changed from being ceramic to plastic; I’m fine with that. Some plastic parts have a coin slot built in, and I’m also fine with that because I still choose whether to give it my coins.

When I critique the machine, I am not bothered by how much of its composition is ceramic and how much is plastic. It may look good or bad, or interact well or poorly. I think it’s important to understand that no art can achieve perfection, and sane creators won’t be trying to do that.

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Arktouros

Yes, I see games as just an ordinary entertainment product.

If the business mechanics ultimately detract from how the “interactive experience” is then the simplest answer is to not play what is an inferior experience. To take your art analogy it’d be like complaining you can only see half a painting while the other half is locked behind a paywall and you’re upset about that. However you’re making this complaint while surrounded by a city sized art gallery with classics from Da Vinci and others still available at any time. It just seems awfully wasteful to spend any time on what could have been when there’s plenty around you more deserving of your time.

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Melissa McDonald

wish I could +10 that

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draugris

” Niles Sankey. “Developers have retirement to save for and families to feed… If people don’t like loot crates and microtransactions, they shouldn’t support the game by purchasing them.”

In what kind of delusional state is this guy ? If powerups are available through lootboxes you basically force people to buy them to compete.

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rafael12104

What a load of bullshit. Lol! Ok, I’ve been thinkin about this a good bit. I swear I’ll try and be brief.

So first, lets start with the “Blizz and Valve get a pass” part of this excrement. Wrong. Blizz and Valve shenanigans get called out all the time. But they unlike others respond vigorously to make things better or explain things. Unlike EA for example who says nothing or just gives us their version of STFU. Overwatch has lock boxes, yes. But they are purely cosmetic. A far cry from EA’s new progression by box approach!

But lets get to the real meat here. Lock boxes are in vogue for big studios because the make tons of money. They double or triple their earnings in microtransactions because people have to buy many of them to get what they want or need to play.

Does anyone here really believe that EA or Activision have trouble keeping the lights on? Lol! Costs go up, sure. But they aren’t using lock boxes to recoup those costs. They are using them because it makes them a shitload more than even their projected earnings.

One last point to keep this brief because I’m now getting pissed. Indies could do lock boxes. They are easy peasy. There is no AI or group mechanics. No big dev teams required. But they don’t. They don’t do it, and they are the ones struggling to pay the bills!

So, are we to believe that while AAAs are struggling to survive, Indies are living on the gravy train? LOL!

And now, it’s not just cosmetics you are rolling the dice on but actual progression and game play…

FU. I’m done with EA to start. Activision, goes that way, gating game mechanics and content behind loot boxes, I’m done with them too.

I have choices in the games I play other hobbies too. I may not be a whale, but not the only fish swimming away.

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styopa
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styopa

It will continue exactly as long as there are people stupid enough to buy them.

Just like lottery tickets (ie forever).

Personally, I would like to see the legal precedent established that says if you can buy in-game lootbox/things with real money (ie keys for lockboxes) that’s gambling, because really, it is, in a way that’s far more direct than paying $15/mo to play the game (in which you may get keys for said lockboxes).

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Yep. It’s really this simple.

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Sally Bowls

We just disagree. I think whether lockboxes could/should/will be legally regulated are three interesting questions that there is something reasonable to say on both sides of each. OTOH, I think that, both de facto and de jure, it is clear that at this moment they are not legally considered gambling.

#1 gets a key drop from a boss
#2 spends eight hours farming drytop, gets in game gold, converts to gems and buys a key
#3 RL$ to gems to key
#4 RL$ to cartel coins to cosmetic that is sold on GTN and said gold buy a loot crate

All four of these open the same box with the same RNG content chances. Which are “gambling”?

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

#3 most definitely. You’d have to wiggle to make #4 convincing, but it’s miles closer than #1 and #2. We tackled your exact question on this two podcasts ago btw Sally! If you already heard it, ignore this. :D

antheriel
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antheriel

Bree, I crave a long-form MOP editorial about the state of the (MMO)RPG market. I see these trends:

1. Desktop MMORPGs that are decent, but where much of the fun is destroyed by lockboxes and cash shop mechanics. This is most games for me. (e.g. ESO)

2. Mobile MMORPGs that might be decent, but you can hardly play them because most of your game time is consumed by opening loot crates, login rewards, and playtime rewards that come at you fast and furious (e.g. Order and Chaos 2 and most other mobile MMORPGs).

3. Mobile MMORPGs that almost literally play themselves, given their auto-questing features (e.g. Crusaders of Light, Taichi Panda 3, Dragon Revolt). They are also typically burdened by the same effects as in (1) and (2).

4. Desktop MMORPGs that are decent in principle, but they force you through an insane grind if you want to avoid the cash shop (e.g. STO and BDO).

I feel like we are down to just a couple of MMORPGs that have decent subscription models, where you don’t also need to spend money in the cash shop to avoid fun-killing grinds or lockboxes.

And this is why, after about 12 years of playing MMORPGs, I’m back to single-player RPGs. The MMORPG market has been monitized and auto-played into oblivion for me.

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Vunak

Or perhaps they could try to make games that are actually worth playing and subbing to.

Funny how an EA dev says Blizzard isn’t who to look to yet they forced their WoW clone down our throat rather than using the massive SW IP to make something great or build on the already unique SWG platform.

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Rumm

Pointing to Blizzard as an offender in this matter doesn’t really make sense to me. Hearthstone is the most obvious case that can be made for Blizz exploiting lockboxes, but its a free to play trading card game. Its literally the same thing as if you were to go out and buy a Magic pack, except you can actually earn the cards in game if you play enough.

Overwatch would be the other point, but again, if you actually play the game, you never really have to pay for the lockboxes. I’m at a point with my account where I have enough gold saved up that I can buy pretty much any new holiday skin that I want, on top of the chance to get them from the holiday boxes as is.

Its a bit rich seeing someone from EA attempting to criticize someone else’s business practices. Last I checked, a full Sims game with all DLC and packs is in the $500 range.

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Bree Royce

Yep. Blizz doesn’t get a pass. Hearthstone has been deservedly blasted for its exploitative model, and Overwatch dumps so many free crates on you that you don’t need to buy them. That EA quote actually made me the maddest.

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Bhima Jenkins

Hearthstone isn’t being subversive though… it is exactly a trading card game, which is what anyone that would try it would expect. This just doesn’t bother me to the degree that say, Battlefront 2 does. Battlefront 2, if you are an unwitting customer, would drop your $60, play and get wrecked over and over by people that whaled out on lootboxes for increased power. There isn’t a whole lot of precedent for this type of exploitation in PvP shooters, especially in ones where you have to buy the box at full retail.

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Robert Mann

Blizzard does their fair share of shady stuff, but yet I do agree with people that they at least respond when it is called out. At least, usually. It was an obvious and weak excuse, though… no matter what Blizz does or does not do.

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Schmidt.Capela

Coming from an ex-EA exec, though, it might be reflecting how EA was caught red-handed in so many exploitive schemes, having so little trust from consumers it was voted the most evil company in the world two consecutive years, that with EA people are always assuming the worst.

The fact every year they seem to come up with an even more exploitative way of separating consumers from their money doesn’t help them overcome this sentiment, though. Thus, even EA studios that play fair get judged by the shittiest schemes pouring forth from under the umbrela of their corporate overlords.

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Bryan

To me the real discussion that is not happening either by the Devs or the people complaining is my complaint which is why do they not understand “MICRO-transactions”. This term is always used for anything you can buy for a game from their store yet I don’t feel that except for a very small selection of items I’ve ever seen anything I would deem as a micro-transaction. The base cost in a store for a cosmetic item is usually at a minimum $5 and usually $10 or more once you figure out the conversion rate to their, gee lets confuse people, in game currency that you can buy for real money.

My issue and it’s rarely discussed is I feel most of these games and companies are leaving lots of money on the table by totally over pricing their items, and just hoping to milk the top end spenders. I can tell you right now I see a cool looking new mount in Wow and it’s $15 and I’m like I don’t need it if it was $5 I would likely buy it as that is a micro transaction to me for such and item and the first one is not. If I see cool new armor in Swtor that I like it usually is $10.00 or more to purchase but if it was $2.50 I would likely buy it and probably a couple more to make that awesome ensemble but at $10.00 I just say nope. I feel the majority of people that don’t spend money on these items are like me they feel prices are too high. I’d really like to see a game company be bold and give us true micro-transactions and see how many more people spend extra money on their game and how much more they would make… But none of them ever do.

Final point is most f2p games I’ve seen that tout micro-transactions have one or two necessary to enjoy the game items usually inventory expansions or something similar that you can purchase for $1-$2 or so of real money and everything else in the store is $8 and up.

Perhaps MOP could approach some devs and mmo companies about this issue and see what they have to say? I feel they are totally pricing themselves out of most of the market for their virtual goodies and the lockboxes are probably at least part of the problem since they often are there to entice those people not willing to make a none micro-transaction for and item to use to try and get the item for less(this is where the gambling comes in).

Sorry for the wall of text just my none micro thoughts on the matter:).

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Robert Mann

I’ll tell you the actual answer right now: Most who would buy, do buy. There’s an entire industry around price point analytics. Occasionally it goes flying off into the void… but by and far it finds where the most profit can be made by inflated price matched to customers buying.

That’s where and why prices are what they are generally.

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PurpleCopper

You’d think we have the technology to make games cheaper…

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Richard de Leon III

All thing aside, the one resource that tech cant help with is time. Time spent developing a game is always going up. Think wages, inflation, costs. Each hour spent making a game is getting more expansive cuz people always want more money as time goes on.

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Schmidt.Capela

At the same time, the development time, and resources, required to create something of the same quality keeps going down. Between good enough off-the-shelf engines, faster computers that drastically reduce how long people are waiting for the machine to spit out results, better tools for creating audio and graphics, and so on, a small team is able to create games with as high quality as the old classics in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost.

It’s why you see so many retro-style games out there, and quite a few of them very good. Making a good retro-style game still requires as much talent as when that style wasn’t retro at all, but the amount of work required is substantially smaller.

Now, if you think about the current cutting edge, then yeah, games are nowadays more expensive to make. But that is mostly because devs keep going for very expensive features, like full voice-overs and ever-increasing visual fidelity with realistic graphics, in an attempt to shine brighter than their competitors. Well, they reap what they sow.

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Bannex

FYI for anybody thinking that the new cash shop exploitation software that was just patented by Activision will only be seen in Activision games, you’re wrong.

Tech is bought, sold and traded all the time in business. There will be hundreds of new innocent “start ups” looking to make a quick dollar under the ‘for gamers by gamers moniker’ who’s entire business model revolves around this stuff.

On this day pvp has died for those who don’t want to pay whatever it costs to be competitive.

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Robert Mann

Well, outside the handful of games that will continue popping up without the exploitive crud. Rare, sure. But they will exist.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

$

maMMOn redux.gif
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agemyth 😩

Stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing games that require hundreds or 1000+ developers and artists (including outsourcing) to make games that are basically the same things we have been playing for years/decades but prettier.

If making hundred million dollar games is unsustainable don’t be in the business of making hundred million dollar games.

Also make sure your chief executives aren’t hoarding company cash in ridiculous bonuses.

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Utakata

“Loot boxes mean more revenue from those who are interested.”

The tl.dr: Pads the bottom line.

“Developers have retirement to save for and families to feed…”

The tl,dr: Waxing dramatics.

“Blizzard gets a free pass on pretty much everything, as does Valve.”

The tl,dr: Professional jealousy.

…in the end of the day, developers making games to make money are getting more money from adding lockbox mechanics to their game. I’m not sure why this would be surprising or insightful to anyone; it’s seems to be the nature of the beast. /shrug

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Utakata

Edit/Clarification: In case anyone is wondering, I look at lockboxes in the same way someone where to lop off my pigtails and set them of fire in front of me. That is, I mortifyingly despise lockbox mechanics infecting the games I love, played and/or interested in playing. I am just pointing out why I strongly suspect developers are embracing them. :(

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camren_rooke

Niles was doing his impression of Cut-Me-Own-Throat-Dibbler there.

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BalsBigBrother

Oh hey another day another article about lock boxes.

Well my own personal limit has been breached adding these to articles I will skip in the future. You all keep fighting the good fight or whatever /sigh

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Utakata

…you’ll miss all those Mr. Schlag gifs. :(

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

The problem is that a lot of the AAA games being made are “sequels” only incrementally better than their previous iteration. Sports titles, fighting games, nearly everything by Capcom, and Pokemon could be releasing content as DLC instead of asking players to regrind and repay. I think I’d be fine with paying a little more for DLC if it increased the game’s longevity. It’s more fun getting a slew of new unlockables than paying an arm and a leg to gamble on new stuff.

Now to hypocritically return to wishing I was playing Overwatch/PoGO and pursuing free currency for my lockboxes.

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George

“Blizzard gets a free pass on pretty much everything, as does Valve. Never try to get learnings from them, as they are outliers.”

Blizzard did the microtransaction-stuff in the right way… Unlike Battlefront 2

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BDJ

Uh, im not sherrif srs bro. You can’t be.

Hearthstone has lockboxes – They are called packs.
Heroes of the Storm – Lockboxes
Overwatch – Lockboxes

I mean, they have fully embraced lockboxes, yet no one mentions them.

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George

Well, I was going to answer this, but I can’t add anything to what have been said by who already answered to you. And that’s exactly what I meant with “microtransaction-stuff in the right way”.

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Jack Kerras

Hearthstone’s packs emulate IRL card games, which is what they’re built to do, and card games in general rely on shitty business things like this; always have. They’re just aping Magic, and Magic was designed to make people by hundred-pound boxes full of shit that’s totally meaningless.

Heroes of the Storm’s lockboxes don’t affect gameplay whatsoever.

Overwatch’s lockboxes don’t affect gameplay whatsoever.

Also, as you gain more and more cosmetic items, poses, voice packs, etc., you start getting currency which you can use to buy The One Thing You Want.

Compare this against Fortnite, wherein you get Diablo-ified loot with randomized gear, possibly excellent, possibly absolute garbage, out of lockboxes. This is the only real source for loot in game; all others are severely time-limited, can only be done once, or are intensely random drops from mission-completion rewards, with no schematic drops in-game. If you don’t get what you want, fuck you, buy another. No progression, no checking off slots and getting coins for duplicates so you can buy The One Thing You Want. Also, orange items can be heaping garbage fires! Fun! :D

All of the above games allow you to play the game to get more lockboxes, which is as it should be, but Blizzard’s are extra good because they’re designed to be exciting to open and never to grant an undue advantage to someone who dropped $300 trying to get a Nevermore skin for Edgelord, while also allowing you to purchase things that you want with the extra copies you get by playing naturally.

Further, Blizzard has designed their lockboxes to be simple to get; you don’t have to play any specific way, you just get them for playing, full stop, and it never really grinds to a stop or ceases to reward normal gameplay.

Blizzard’s get a pass not because Blizzard’s Blizzard, as this fucking vacuous EA moron would have you believe, but because they keep gameplay and lockboxes VERY SEPARATE (except in the case of Hearthstone, wherein it is, again, a major feature of the CCG lifestyle, and STILL allows you to break down unwanted duplicates to make The One Thing You Want). If EA stopped filling lockboxes with N7-class gear or purple Inquisitors or Star Cards that reduce your fucking cooldowns by 30%, then people would quit bitching at them for making shitty lockboxes.

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Schmidt.Capela

(except in the case of Hearthstone, wherein it is, again, a major feature of the CCG lifestyle, and STILL allows you to break down unwanted duplicates to make The One Thing You Want)

Yeah, this is what makes Blizzard lockboxes somewhat acceptable. More acceptable than CCG booster packs, even. They usually include some mechanic to convert unwanted content into currency that can get you the exact item you want.

In other words, Blizzard lockboxes work as store cash sales with a chance to instead give players a better reward in place of the store cash. Thus, just as with things purchased with store cash, you can calculate the maximum number of boxes you need go buy in order to get what you want with 100% certainty.

Now, if only they were more candid about the actual chances and costs, they could make their lockbox business as acceptable as traditional in-game cash stores.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I suspect this is because Blizzard has been paying attention to what legal actions have been taken in countries in which they have large fan bases and designed their lootboxes to pass legal scrutiny.

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Ittybumpkin

You cannot play a collectible card game without something like packs. Even real world trading card games have packs.

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Schmidt.Capela

Which is exactly why I forswore Magic back when the current edition was the Unlimited. Heck, as a child I refused gifts of sports card packs because I hated the randomness, and refused the cards themselves because I knew it would be nearly impossible for me to complete a collection without wasting money on packs with random cards.

BTW, while collectible card games are defined by how random and unreliable acquiring specific cards is, the same game mechanics can be used in games where you only purchase packs where the contents are known beforehand. Those games often sell full sets of cards that come with every card you would need to make any kind of deck, which often makes them more expensive to start playing but much cheaper to play at a competitive level. IMHO this makes for an even better game, as it removes most of the pay-to-win aspect that plagues Magic.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

Well, at least you didn’t get any, “But players like them! They’re fun!” answers, which I have seen before.

Don’t buy lock boxes. That’s how you get more lock boxes. Is that what you want, more lock boxes? Let that poor dev’s family starve… or something. Hrmm…

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I’m reminded of the time EA sent out some poor marketing intern to write a blog post on how everybody loves lockboxes so much that they were doing to revamp the SWTOR lockbox UI to put lockboxes inside of other lockboxes. Sometimes you wonder whether they believe their own bullshit.

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Yuri Geinish

> “If people don’t like loot crates and microtransactions, they shouldn’t support the game by purchasing them.”

Exactly. Force them to come up with something other than loot boxes.

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Kayweg

I watched a jimquisition episode the other day called “the 60 dollar myth”.
That whole “games are getting more expensive to make” and “box prices haven’t risen” argument just doesn’t bite anymore for me.
I’m not going to reiterate, i’m sure many here are keenly aware of the different sides of this discussion.

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Arktouros

Source. Decent watch.

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John Mclain

I hadn’t pirated a videogame in almost 9 years, now that this lockbox crap has started I’m pirating each and every game that includes them. If the company is that greedy, it deserves no money at all.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, I won’t pirate a dang thing… but I sure as heck will avoid their gacha crudpile.

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Melissa McDonald

Yeah, stealing because you don’t want to pay for a thing is pretty much the definition of thievery.

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kgptzac

Except digital piracy is not stealing; digital piracy is digital piracy. May bear similarities, but not the same thing. Same logic applies to lockbox and gambling.

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BalsBigBrother

you are part of the same cesspool as the folks you are railing against and doing just as much damage.

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John Mclain

That’s the idea, fire with fire. I can live with that.

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Serrenity

I agree with BBB, but with slightly less inflammatory language :-)

But only slightly

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Schmidt.Capela

My approach is different because I haven’t (re)turned to pirating, but the consequences are similar: if the game has lockboxes, I’m only willing to pay peanuts for it. I’ll wait until it has fallen in price and is sold at 75% off (and preferably 85%+ off) before I will spend money on it, and even after that I will still refuse to spend a single cent on those blasted lockboxes.

With single-player games I will also blatantly cheat in order to get the contents of lockboxes, pre-order rewards, and other content distributed through similarly shady practices if that content is actually in the game and just disabled for regular players.

Now, if you think about games with Denuvo, that is really tempting me to return to piracy. I will never, ever, spend money on a game that currently uses Denuvo. Thankfully it’s also proving useless nowadays, with recent games with Denuvo being cracked in less than 24 hours, which ironically means pirates get a better experience to boot as they can get games at release without having to put up with that crapware.

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Melissa McDonald

We get the system we deserve. People stopped paying subscriptions, so games started going F2P. Free doesn’t keep the lights on, or pay developer salaries.

So how are game companies supposed to make money? They have to have some way of doing that, it’s not a charity funded by some wealthy philanthropist. I don’t really have a big problem with lootboxes, although my personal belief is that F2P games should invest in cosmetics as ways to generate revenue – people like cosmetics, will pay for them, and there are no “pay to win” screams over such items.

styopa
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styopa

JimQuisition talks about that too

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rafael12104

As I have stated many times here and elsewhere, I’m all about choice. So, I don’t have any issue with loot boxes in and of themselves if they are cosmetic items. But that is where there is a turn for the worse. EA specifically is now using those boxes to gate progression and content. BF2 a game in beta which I have played and enjoyed is just one example.

Cash shops make them tons of money. They have a choice on how to profit.

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Brother Maynard

Oh, and I forgot: there is also the SP games perspective… Like games that in a span of two years went from 49.99 to 59.99, and added paid first-day DLCs and lockboxes all at the same time.

With such philosophy, the statement “some big games are just not selling enough copies to make the development and marketing costs viable” is correct – there can never be enough money to satisfy their greed.

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Brother Maynard

You don’t have lockboxes in Warframe.
And yet ninjas play free…

wf_steam_13_10b.png
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KumiKaze

I would also add that development has changed as well. In the early days with no internet, developers made a game, released it, and moved on. Now, players expect games to be updated to fix bugs, multiplayer servers, and new content for their favorite games.

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Serrenity

Early developers tended to be lone wolves, relearning the same things over and over again. Today developers communicate a lot more. StackOverflow ftw

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Schmidt.Capela

I really agree. Thanks to Google and sites like StackOverflow I can usually find a darn good explanation of just about any programming trick in less time than it would take for me to scan the index of a programming manual.

Basically, thanks to those tools a new programmer that is smart and willing to learn can nowadays be far more productive than in the past.

styopa
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styopa

Let’s remember at the same time that those original games had content; now (with the internet) many games expect other humans to provide the challenge and interesting gameplay that would have formerly been in the code.

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Schmidt.Capela

Before the Internet, developers were supposed to release bug-free games because they couldn’t patch them. A bugged release would be a permanent black mark on that developer’s track record; a few of those could kill a studio.

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Yuri Geinish

> So how are game companies supposed to make money?

Yes, cosmetics and QOL stuff. Like, large inventory bags or xp boosters. Lootboxes are just bad because they give random results. It’s pure gambling to leech money from customers.

Let people buy exactly whatever they need and be done with it.

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BDJ

Its no more gambling than sports cards or a loot crate. Im going to continue to parrot this sentiment. Random yes. Gambling? Nope.

What you end up with with no randomness is a transmog outfit that cost $149.00

No thank you.

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Yuri Geinish

Paying money in hope of randomly getting something good rather something bad is the definition of gambling.

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Schmidt.Capela

What you end up with randomness instead is that you need to spend on loot boxes, on average, far more than the “no randomness” price to get the exact transmog you want. This kind of randomness is just an unethical way to milk customers as much as possible.

And yeah, I do consider sports cards and loot crates bad. Both in that they are a bad deal and because they train children to be more open to gambling. It’s why I flat out refuse to ever spend money on something unless I know exactly what I’m getting.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

“Its no more gambling than sports cards or a loot crate. Im going to continue to parrot this sentiment. Random yes. Gambling? Nope.”

I’ve had lawyers and lawmakers say otherwise: http://massivelyop.com/2017/01/17/__trashed-3/

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Sally Bowls

Generally speaking, for now, game developers should be safe unless they participate directly with the gambling.

was my take away from your article. (Thx again btw) I.e., since it confirmed my rough understanding of the situation, it must be right. :-)

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BDJ

I am really having a hard time understanding how something that has no monetary value translates into gambling. You are simply buying a pack of random pixels just like you buy a pack of random pieces of paper/cardboard with sports cards… or 4-5 random knick knacks in a loot crate. There is ZERO difference between them.

((Edited by mod. Please review the commenting code. Apologies to everyone for the broken thread.))

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Serrenity

So, most states definition of gambling does NOT have a monetary value requirement. It’s a has a perceived value requirement. For example, the definition of gambling in my home state:

Elements of gambling are: consideration, element of chance, and reward.

The reward doesn’t have to translate into any specific monetary value. I’ve mentioned that a few times, but it bears mentioning again.

Secondly, it’s not truly random chance. The first thing to note about technology is that RNG is really a shortened form of PRNG or pseudo-random number generation. The degree of randomness that you are actually getting with a digital product is not nearly as ‘random’ as we tend to believe.

Thirdly, the pieces of paper/cardboard have actual scarcity, meaning their value is somewhat influenced by that scarcity. Digital goods don’t have the same scarcity influencer. The cost of each instantation of the ‘item’ is generally going to be several thousands of a cent (basically just the electricity required by the server, etc). But the idea is that after a digital good has been created, I can create an infinite number of those items for virtually no cost. The scarcity is artificially manufactured.

They also have persistence, whereas digital products don’t generally have persistence – you leave the leave the game world and you’re digital products don’t come with you. Many of the best items from lootboxes games are non-tradeable. Again, different from physical cards.

Finally, there’s the whole bit where because there is no oversight into this, you are placing all of your trust in these organizations to play fair — when in almost every other instance we assume these organizations to be fleecing us — but for some reason we give them a pass here.

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Serrenity

bleh – typos. I always see them after the editing period <.<

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Bree Royce

@Serrenity: This is one of the better layouts of this argument I’ve seen. Thank you, bookmarking for future linkspam. :D

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Yuri Geinish

> Its all a matter of opinion.

There is no such thing as a “just an opinion”. If you can’t back it up, it’s worthless to everyone else. OTOH, if you can logically prove why your statement is true, it can be argued or agreed upon.

> I am really having a hard time understanding how something that has no monetary value translates into gambling.

People giving money in hope of randomly getting something good rather than bad is gambling. Doesn’t have anything to do with pixels.

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Schmidt.Capela

When the prize is something you can’t obtain without playing the game of chance, I would define if it’s gambling with the following question: if they had the chance, would players pay a fixed, fair price in order to obtain the prize without any randomness?

If the answer is yes, then I very much consider it gambling, regardless of what the prize is. If the answer is no, then players are playing the game of chance just for the fun of it, and so it shouldn’t be considered gambling.

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Ittybumpkin

Do you know what arm chair lawyer means? That article is talking to an actual lawyer, not someone who chooses to define things in their own little fantasy world as you seem to

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Utakata

I don’t think those are armchair lawyers Mr. Ross in his article linked too. o.O

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Pandalulz

I kind of liked the ESRB’s take on it myself, which was that if we consider it gambling, we might as well retroactively ban 70+ years of baseball cards as well, along with Pokeon, Magic, blind grab bags and anything else of that ilk. I mean, I don’t buy loot boxes, but I’ve also refused to play CCGs for the last 25 years for exactly the same reasons. They’re a bad investment.

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BDJ

They really are the same thing.

Hell , even in hearthstone. You buy a pack with 5 random cards. Lower odds for legendaries, rares, and elite cards. Its literally a lockbox called a pack lol.

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Ittybumpkin

You mean something that has existed in the real world for card games for like 30 years? Card packs are not loot boxes. There are entire formats of card games about making cards from the packs you have and playing against others who do the same. There are no such thing for loot boxes

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Pandalulz

Then what do you do with the stuff that comes out of loot boxes, if not to use them to play the game that they came from?

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BDJ

HOW IN THE WORLD are they not the same thing.

Lockboxes : Pay money, get chance at A, B , C, D, ETC LOOT.
Sports Card Packs : Pay money, get chance at A, B, C, D, ETC CARD.

They are both games of chance and odds. How in the world is it not the same thing?

People are sitting here trying to twist things to fit their narrative. Packs of cards are EXACTLY the same as loot/lock boxes. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the first game to put them in actually ripped the idea blizzard style directly from sports trading cards.

Check this article out :

Here is an excerpt from it : http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-c1-trading-night-20130926-dto-htmlstory.html

“Bisson writes their charges on slips of paper and adds up the tab. One of his better customers racks up a tab so big — $643.50 — that he doesn’t want the amount printed with his name for fear of reprisal from his wife.

For Branda, it’s $260. For Brewster, $140. He pays some of it with his debit card, a little more in cash. He will take care of the rest when he’s back next month, flush with more money and ready to try his luck again.”

Sounds a lot a like to me.

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KumiKaze

There is a huge difference though between packs of cards and a loot box in game. The capability to trade or sell to other people. There are a few exceptions in games.

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Pandalulz

I don’t see it as such. If I buy a thing, and don’t get what I want, so I buy another thing, and still don’t get what I want, and continue on, it’s irrelevant to me what happens after that. I still haven’t gotten the thing that I want, but I still have gotten things of value. In actual casino gambling, you might come out ahead with more money than you started with. Does it cease to be gambling at that point?

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BDJ

Of course there is a difference. One is solely for YOUR enjoyment most of the time due to soulbound items. They are worthless pixels. They hold a value to you and you alone. All of these dozens of articles seemingly weekly shouldnt be examining “gambling” or the unfairness of lockboxes. It should be about the inability to get help for people’s addiction to video games. That is the true issue here.

I do find it funny though. MOP is seemingly against lockboxes. I think thats a given now. Yet, every single game streamed here all involve lock boxes.

Secret World, Wildstar, Marvel Heroes. All lockboxes. Want to make a change? Quit playing their games.

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Eduardo da Fonseca

I did quit!

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Serrenity

Addiction is not the issue here. Its not even a consideration here. The issue at hand is that REGARDLESS OF OUTCOME lock-boxes use manipulative and exploitative techniques to get you to spend money without really generating anything of value to you, the player.

The soul of the matter for me is this: I think it is wholeheartedly immoral and unethical to exploit a loophole in current legislation for your own benefit … regardless of whether someone is a whale or not. The fact that these games willing and knowingly create this situation is what’s immoral and unethical.

And all of this they do instead of trying to create better gaming experiences that people want to pay for. Instead of exploring additional ways to deliver content, to monetize games. I’m sympathetic to the fact that games are expensive to create and probably exceed the $60 price point. But I’m not sympathetic to creating situations the publishers actively hope and try to enable abuse of to make money, while being able to claim that they have no responsibility in how it’s being used.

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Bree Royce

That’s already been argued to death. Almost every online game has lockboxes. If you want to play or cover MMOs, you’re going to run into them. Not playing and covering them would literally mean the site would shut down. I’m sure the studios would love for every critical voice to just pack up and go home, but seriously, absolutely no. We do way more good from right here.

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Schmidt.Capela

Yep. Though I do make a conscious effort to spend less money on games with lockboxes than I would spend on them if they didn’t have lockboxes.

Not that it’s hard or anything, as I will never spend any money whatsoever with lockboxes anyway, and games with lockboxes often don’t have anything else on sale that I would be willing to pay for.

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Aelzen

Cost of making games may be going up somewhat, but I guarantee that it’s the marketing cost that’s driving the need for larger income. When AAA games get almost as much spent on marketing as development, you know the industry is broken.

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Loopy

Although i agree that marketing probably eats up way too much budget comparing to costs of developing the actual game, there is also the other side of the coin where games with poor marketing simply die in cyber oblivion and gamers didn’t even know the games existed.

We the consumers are simply not privy to the intricacies of developing, publishing and marketing video games, and our armchair analysis can only take us so far.

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