It might be tempting to think that the industry is doomed and that no studio will ever be able to ignore the siren song of easy lootbox, but the parade of MMOs and online games that are bucking the trend just keeps coming. The parade now includes Dauntless, which just closed out a Series B investment round. And money helps – but that isn’t the whole story of why. As Phoenix Labs CEO Jesse Houston told GIbiz, who the heck enjoys running a company specializing in squeezing cash out of gamer wallets?
“I would rather run a business where we are 100% focused on delivering awesome player experiences and building a game for a community than trying to find the best way to optimize every dime out of them,” he says.
Moreover, lockboxes change the way players actually play.
“There are some really awesome loot box models that leverage the idea of, ‘I’ve got a couple extra bucks sitting in my pocket. Can I get something cool with it?’ But when you really want to have that bright pink dye… We weren’t feeling like we were necessarily giving folks exactly what they wanted. The more we continued to do soul-searching on it, and thinking through what we want players to feel when they invest with their wallet, we really wanted it to feel like, ‘I had this want, so I got it.'”
The most intriguing part of the interview is that Houston believes lockboxes aren’t as popular and desirable, even among investors, as they were a year ago. His investors, he says, are more interested in gameplay than monetization – that while the future of free-to-play games in the west looked like gamebleboxes a year ago, “today, it looks like bespoke purchases.”