Lockbox roundup: MMO studios on ‘elegant’ lockboxes, legal issues, and the ‘cosmetics only’ angle


You know the lockbox thing is reaching saturation when there are so many things to cover we have to resort to a roundup. Nevertheless, for those of you who want to stay on top of developments and arguments, here we go.

Polygon has an explainer piece up on Destiny 2’s Eververse fallout and why everyone is still rioting over the game’s monetization. Of note for this discussion is the publication’s note that if Destiny 2 is hell-bent on having lootboxes, it ought to adopt Overwatch’s lootboxes, as they’re relatively tame and haven’t produced a Reddit in full meltdown.

Gamasutra has a roundup of MMO developer quotes from studios that believe they’re doing lockboxes “elegantly,” including Trion (for Defiance), PWE (for Star Trek Online), Wargaming (for World of Warships). In this particularly case, that means either being easily accessible through in-game play (not just in the cash shop), making lockbox drops tradeable to other players, creating systems of accruing lockbox rewards, or offering a choice of lootbox type.

“First, allow the player to obtain everything in-game through gameplay, and offer the store as an alternate way of accomplishing that goal,” argues Trion’s Matt Pettit.

Are lootboxes gambling? YouTuber Law tackles the question. Spoiler alert: Andrew’s research into whether lockboxes legally constitute gambling from last January comes to the same conclusion.

And finally, there’s this Jim Sterling video from Saturday, in which he rants about a statement from everyone’s favorite gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter, who comments on the potential for Anthem to have lockboxes (which we do not know yet). Pachter, probably rightly, points out that EA would be wise to “limit [itself] to purely cosmetic items” to avoid the uproar Star Wars Battlefront provoked. But as Sterling points out, “just cosmetic” lockboxes are still annoying as hell, which is why people are so angry about them in Destiny 2. “Pay-to-win” isn’t the only problem with lockboxes; if you hate lockboxes, it probably doesn’t matter what you’re gambling for. In fact, this is exactly the same microtransaction fight MMORPG players have been fighting for the last decade, even before the random gambling element was introduced. Welcome, mainstreamers.

Thanks, Bryan!
Previous articleSea of Thieves’ official controller is pure pirate gold
Next articleShip of Heroes takes you on a tour of its warehouse district

No posts to display

oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments