Guild Wars 2 overhauls its lockbox mechanics and adds gardening plots

We don’t often cover cash shop updates for MMOs, and lockboxes are not our favorite thing, but Guild Wars 2’s cash shop and lockbox update today is worth noting all the same because of the lockbox changes and new mechanics going live. For starters, ArenaNet has patched in a new buyable in the cash shop called the Black Lion Garden Plot Deed. For 1000 gems ($12.50), you can add a garden plot to your home instance and grow harvestable plants from nodes akin to those purchaseable separately. Each plot allows four plants, and it appears you can purchase two plots. It sounds as if seeds will drop from nodes in the world as well. Good news for people who like to garden or those really into decking out their home instances, but maybe a steep price for a couple of nodes in a not-housing-system.

Perhaps more importantly, ArenaNet has redesigned (again) some of the features of the lockbox system itself, perhaps in part due to ongoing criticism of that element of the business model throughout the industry (and surely in response to backlash faced by ANet in particular last autumn). The devs are adding a “guaranteed seasonal item,” which this round appears to be a glowy minipet, plus the random drops, plus what they’re calling a “black lion statuette” currency. Collect enough currency, and you can trade that for specific items.

What items? I logged in to peek and saw everything from claim tickets and minipets to makeover kits and transmutes to really expensive items like skins and housing nodes. You can even stack them to wish for more wishes in the form of the “golden black lion chest key.” Essentially, it’s one of those better-than-lint consolation prizes that at least allow you to stack bad lockbox rolls up for something good down the road, but again they appear relatively expensive, given the cost of lockbox keys. For example, in my household, teleport-to-friend items are something we wish we could buy outright as they’re a huge help when duoing or trioing with my son, but a single one through this method would require five such currency, so five keys at a cost of 450 gems at a cost of almost $6. Six bucks for a teleport. Hmm. So probably not really intended as a new way to buy stuff, just a consolation prize as noted.

Incidentally, all B2P owners of the game and/or its expansions are getting a free lockbox and key today for checking out the cash shop, which will get you at minimum the seasonal minipet for free and of course one hit of currency so you can browse. So if you’re into free, there you go. If you’re not? Well, you be the judge on whether this counts as one of those “elegant lockbox designs” MMO devs talked about yesterday.

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Goettel
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Goettel

A positive change for sure, even if value is still debatable. Opinions on the forum and in-game have been positive too, and BLC price has jumped up considerably on the TP – https://www.gw2tp.com/item/20316-black-lion-chest

Bannex
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Bannex

How about you actually open your eyes a net and see the backlash.

I bet if they shuttered lock boxes altogether and announced that they’re placing all items for sale for gems in the cash shop as a way to woo jaded gamers they’d see a tremendous response.

You can always reintroduce lock boxes when the frenzy dies down but for now just act like you’re catering to the customer in a small way and it will payoff

Duey Bear
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Duey Bear

Was excited to see a gardening system added, was saddened to see there is not a free garden plot. I can understand buying additional garden plots for money, but locking an entire new gameplay system behind a paywall that’s not say, an expansion feature… ugh, it rubs me the wrong way.

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Arktouros

So basically this is what they did.

The “guaranteed seasonal item” is basically raw gold value. Hatchlings are sitting at 1g92s and will go up over time as availability becomes scarce. To complete the Hatchling collection you needed 224, or roughly $235 worth of boxes. Or you could just convert about $40 to gems/gold and buy the mats directly. So this “new” system is just another example of why GW2’s boxes are predatory and usually best to directly sell gems to gold and buy what you want directly.

The big change with this patch is they’ve gotten rid of most of the “garbage” out of chest drops but not all. The big common things they’ve removed is things like Market Access, Bank Access, etc generally things people really didn’t want and have complained about forever. Spending 84-125 gems per key and getting 35 gem items back was a huge kick in the balls. However they also left in a few turds like T5/T6 mats and of course any number of other RNG items from the game (dyes, festival boxes, etc) because who doesn’t like RNG in their RNG?

In place of the bulk of the garbage items you instead get a currency item you can instead use to purchase all those old items plus other items as well. This takes up one of the 3 item slots so you’re still, in essence, getting a guaranteed turd item per box. You can also roll more of this currency as a common (2) or rare (25) slot item. How they value these currencies vs their gem counter parts is a little all over the place. For example for a single currency you can get 2 transmutation charges (around 60 gems worth) and with two you can get a revive orb (250 gems worth making each worth 125). This kind of inconsistency is everywhere. A previous armor set (800 gems) can cost upwards of 30 currency (a mere 26 gems per).

Some (not all) of the cash shop box only drops are available in the chests but at high rates. For example the Jackal Pup backpack is in there at 60 currency, which only 1 at a time would be around $63 worth of black lion keys. Meanwhile other items are still missing, such as the Hydra Staff, but they presumably can add those later.

Lockboxes are neither inherently ethical or unethical. They are simply a business model employed by those who wish to make money. In terms of value GW2 lockboxes remain incredibly lackluster for their cost. These changes are mostly for the customers who spend a large sum of money on cash shop boxes rather than address the concerns of those who do not (such as those who complain about the number of exclusives that GW2 has continuously introduced).

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Buchi Buci

Just what people needed, another currency….

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Paragon Lost

That was my thought as well. Ugh, more currency that’s in my bag. Why can’t it be in my wallet?

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connor_jones

Definitely, It is more than a little annoying that I keep getting special items in inventory from Heart of Thorns, Paths of Fire, to say nothing of the Living Story episodes and seasonal events. When I go to delete them (when in doubt, throw it out ;), I get the message “Are you sure you want to delete this item, it is valuable?”, even though chances are good I may never get around to using them. Maybe not a game killing misteep on Anet’s part, but certainly a moderate annoyance.

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Bryan Turner

Guess I’ll log in for 5 min and claim the key, tbh I’m more interested in my free crates from ESO.

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Arktouros

I still maintain, as much as disdain I have for ESO, I found their lockboxes to be the best value of any lockbox I’ve ever purchased. They’re the only ones I’ve ever bought that I didn’t feel like I had wasted money after buying them which is pretty rare.

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Anastasis Kontostergios

There were also new “current” events and a set of achievements with this patch

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

Really wish they’d stop spoilering story I haven’t gotten to yet.

What makes this 100x worse is the cutscene bug that halts audio and subtitles. Was hoping that would have been addressed so I can burn through the story so I don’t have to worry about spoilers. *grump*

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

At this point I want ArenaNet to make single player games because their story stuff is pretty good but their game has no staying power for me anymore. I think they could make a really fantastic single player game.

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Bryan Turner

Have you played ESO yet, if you had I’d rethink that story comment? I’ll admit GW2 has improved leaps and bounds with their story telling, they are exceptional with their Open World content (and release far more of it than ESO in a given year arguably, hell even their wardrobe system is better than ESO at least until February; how ever if any of those games plays better as a single player game in both story quality and game play I’d suggest ESO since GW2 kind of requires having people around to make their dynamic events actually dynamic.

Notice I said a lot of nice things.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

That’s more what I meant is that it’s improved. I’m just finding myself not caring about it as an MMO with the long term investment one would hope to get out of an MMO is all.

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Zora

I must have been out of the GW2 loop for longer than I realize, when I used to play most of the store was made up of direct purchase items at a fixed price.

When did they start giving in to the gambleboxes in this capacity?

scrapper
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scrapper

It’s been steadily increasing over the past year

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McGuffn

The black lion chests have been in since launch. They add stuff to them all the time though. The first big things they added to them were the 2012 Halloween skins I think, then the fused weapons, which were replaced by the black lion tickets.

The black lion exclusive skins are about 15 months old and the seasonal item referenced in the article is actually a year or so old now, and maybe as old as the exclusive skins.

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Tanek

This is what I was thinking. The guaranteed item is nothing new. Even the mechanic they are using this time (pet that can be combined into other color variants by a quick flush of the Mystic Toilet) was used a few boxes ago with a raptor.

The new bit is the Black Lion Statuette. I still have to look at exactly how that will be working, but adding a way to get the items you want even if luck is not on your side is not a bad start.

Removing luck and finishers was a pretty good move, too. though I am not sure it will significantly change the odds of getting something worthwhile. :)

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McGuffn

It doesn’t, really. With the exception of the new statue, they’re probably less of a value because scraps and tickets (along with the exclusive items) are now rarer because there are now so many more common and uncommon items on the drop table. I know I opened 30 chests a month ago and wish I waited. The “exclusive” items in the statue vendor will be rotated out it seems. They go for 60 statues, currently the dog (zaishen) helmet and the ele sword are in there. You can still get finishers, they just moved those (and many other things) to the statue vendor now.

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Darthbawl

FYI, today’s patch notes says there is a free Appreciation Pack in the store, Black Lion Chest and key for free! :P

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Tanek

And, given that one of the guaranteed items is a mini pet, free mini! (We need to make sure MJ gets this before the offer is gone.)

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Darthbawl

Oh of course, more mini pets for her zoo! :P

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Tanek

It is not a zoo. It is a mini-pet spa and resort. The guards and cages are just for their protection.