With the recent announcement that Battlefield 5 is doing away with loot boxes it seems that the age of loot boxes is coming to a close, or at least we hope so. For a few years already loot boxes have become a part of the video game industry and have aggravated gamers all around the world. Loot boxes have even been ruled as gambling in some countries in the world, and are to be banned from video games in these specific countries. However, gambling for cosmetics is one thing, but gambling for in-game power and characters is something else entirely and these games had some of the worst loot box and micro-transaction implementation to date.
There are no more Battlepacks. Instead, players will be able to choose their rewards directly or through rank up events.
— #Battlefield V (@Battlefield) May 28, 2018
Star Wars: Battlefront 2
How can you talk about bad loot box design and not talk about this game. This game had probably the most predatory loot box system to date. The game required you to purchase loot boxes in order to actually become stronger, which meant that players that spent the most money were also the most powerful. It took ages to grind for even the weakest of power-ups, and the store button was pushed in your face the entire time to tempt players with a weaker will to purchase upgrades.
The worst of all, and probably the one thing that sparked a massive outrage, was that Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader were locked behind a paywall. Two of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe were unavailable except through hours upon hours of grinding, even though you already paid $60 to own the game. The outrage that followed was so large that Disney themselves contacted EA to force them to change the system, which they did, but ever so slightly.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Another game that is notorious for their toxic loot box and micro-transaction system. Shadow of war was a sequel to the much beloved Shadow of Mordor, and in terms of gameplay it delivered, however there was one thing that held the game back from being a success, micro-transactions. The game is centered around recruiting orcs for your army but the strongest orcs all come from loot boxes. For the majority of the game this is no problem, but for the endgame having the most powerful orcs is an absolute necessity forcing people to either grind away or purchase loot boxes. The worst thing of all though, is that the orcs die most of the time anyway, completely wasting your time or money.
The game frustrated many fans as they were unable to even finish the game without spending real money. This is some absolutely awful design as the customers had already paid full price for the game in the first place. Monolith studios has since announced that micro-transactions will be removed from the game, but the damage has already been done.
Forza Motorsport 7
Another game that has been hailed as a king of bad micro-transaction design. The game used a difficulty-based reward system that gave you more credits depending on how much you handicapped yourself during a race. Turning off certain functions that help players assist with driving, like the lines indicating the optimal route, would earn you more credits, allowing you to buy more loot boxes. While in the store, an announcer would constantly urge the player to purchase more loot boxes.
Once again customers had already spent $60 in order to even acquire the game but content was still locked away behind more paywalls. People who paid for VIP in previous Forza games were able to earn double the credits to ease the grind slightly, however, Microsoft even tried to change this system in order to make the game more profitable for them but were unable to do so due to the public backlash it caused.
Although the loot boxes in Destiny 2 have not caused the same outrages that we saw with the games previously mentioned, the loot box design is still bad and Bungie, the developers, have done some shady things to increase micro-transactions. First of all the loot boxes itself are not that problematic although they do contain mods which boost your power and loot boxes that affect gameplay are always bad. Another thing that frustrated players was that the shaders you got from loot boxes were only temporary. These shaders allow you to dye your weapon and outfit in the colors you want but they had limited use would run out, which forced players to purchase more loot boxes in order to get the shaders they wanted. Bungie has since said that it will change this system.
The worst move that Bungie made though, was intentionally lowering the XP gain for leveling. When leveling-up players receive a free loot box, and thus lowering the amount of XP that players gain will reduce the number of free loot boxes that players get. This would cause players to buy more loot boxes in the store. Bungie only stopped doing this after fans caught on to what was happening and confronted the company. They admitted to their mistake but come on, you can’t do that.
Dungeon Keeper (2014)
A mobile reboot of the much beloved original game from 1997, Dungeon Keeper was quickly slammed down for their aggressive micro-transaction system. The game is a strategy tower defense game, unlike the original, and has you construct various building that take a little time to finish. Most of these games allow you to purchase in-game currency to instantly finish this process, but none have been so extremely aggressive about this as Dungeon Keeper.
While playing the game, the devil will pop up on the screen and literally advise you to spend money in order to increase the building speed. Once again EA is on top of their game with micro-transaction implementation. The should probably have learned by now that spending money to improve gameplay is what drives players completely nuts.
Overall loot boxes and micro-transactions are a part of the gaming industry that will most likely stay around for a while, despite games like Battlefield 5 trying to change that. Not every implementation of the system is bad, like Overwatch’s loot boxes, although these still leave plenty to be desired. The best thing you can do as a consumer is to vote with your money, do not buy loot boxes if you want them to leave the gaming industry.