The gaming industry is one that is always full of customer feedback. Gamers aren’t backward in coming forwards when it comes to sharing their opinions on games, even if they are controversial – which means that gaming developers don’t usually have to search very far in order to listen to player feedback. One of the latest changes within gaming has been Lootboxes and their recent removal from the Overwatch gaming series.
What Are Lootboxes?
Lootboxes have been introduced over the last few years as another element of gaming. Although they work differently within different games the general idea is that players buy a mystery box. Within the mystery box, they can buy tools, players or bonuses that can help them complete a game more quickly. However, although on virtual prizes are available in the boxes you do need to pay real money to purchase one. Most Lootboxes have no guarantee of value either so you could pay money for a small prize within the game so the value for money these microtransactions gave within each game is questionable. Loot boxes have been incredibly controversial for a while now, with campaigners saying they were no different to gambling, and it was like advertising the best casino offers in a game, with none of the regulations which is what led to them being removed.
Why Were They Removed?
Lootboxes were questionable because they don’t technically fall under any gambling rules or regulations. Whilst this isn’t necessarily an issue many people were unhappy that they could be accessed by people of all ages; especially as computer games are geared towards all ages. It isn’t just the Overwatch gaming franchise that introduced these microtransactions to their games; even popular games like Fifa encouraged people to spend their money to win a virtual prize. The lack of regulation and the fact that it could encourage those under 18 to spend money meant that many didn’t feel that they were an appropriate addition to gaming. There was talk about these being bought up by the Gambling Commission and even the UK Government and whether they should be regulated in the same way as gambling and raffles usually would be. In the meantime, Blizzard Entertainment the company behind Overwatch 2 removed these microtransactions from both the original game and the recent launch of Overwatch 2. However, despite it being a lengthy discussion on the popular forum Reddit in advance, the removal of these has caused even more of a stir.
What Have They got Instead?
Of course, Blizzard Entertainment had to put a plan in place as an alternative to Lootboxes and it is this that has caused some of the controversies. Seasoned players feel as though the new ways to earn things like skins within the game simply aren’t the same. For starters, you can win Skins within the Battle Pass Track but it could be that at the end of every season everyone playing will have the same skins – which players feel takes away some of the excitement. If you’re in search of a specific player skin within the game now you have to complete lengthy tasks to win currency in order to buy them or splash out real cash to buy them. Many thought that looking back, Lootboxes were actually a better alternative and many have even gone as far as saying they want Lootboxes bought back into the game.
Will Lootboxes Be Bought Back?
When Lootboxes were involved in Overwatch there were opportunities to earn them for free as you progressed through the game. These boxes gave you a free chance to win a prize that may help you within the game. Many players are saying that at the very least these free boxes should be bought back, as they added an extra element to the gameplay that has been lost with the alternative way of doing things.
Whether the purchasing of Lootboxes for real money will return is something that remains to be seen. After all, the controversy of these being unregulated and accessed by those that are underage still remains. Although it is likely that people of all ages access Overwatch, the minimum age to download the game yourself is 12. This means if paid-for Lootboxes were reintroduced, these could be accessed by children as young as 12. Many argue that as gambling is generally not allowed until you are 18 or 21, depending on where you are in the world, offering Lootboxes is irresponsible.
Many players understand that this is not ideal, but have called upon the gaming developers to consider an option that is somewhere of a compromise between the two. They understand that this is a new situation and are waiting to see what happens in the future.
The Future of Microtransactions
For those that develop and sell games, microtransactions are likely to be a popular choice. After all, they allow you to encourage players to spend even more money on the game and therefore increasing revenue. However, if they continue to be popular in the way that they are then it is likely that some countries will bring in rules and regulations that cover this. The UK for example recently changed the age of the National Lottery to a minimum of 18 from its previous threshold of 16 years old. When you consider these changes that the UK Gambling Commission has made it is unlikely that they are going to want very young players having access to this type of gaming.
It could be that there will be age restrictions put on these, so you’ll need to verify yourself and your age if you want access to microtransactions in the future. However, the truth is that will simply does not know how all of this will pan out. Many will be watching to see what happens with Overwatch 2 and whether the gaming team will change anything with what they offer currently. If they do make changes to Lootboxes and this proves a hit then there is a fair chance that other gaming franchises will follow in its footsteps.