I’d like to offer an opposing opinion on loot boxes and their effect on gaming. As a preface, I do not buy loot crates but have bought the occasional expansion pass, Destiny 2 being the most recent.
The main crux of the argument appears to be being coerced into parting with more money to overcome game mechanics intentionally designed to hold the player back. I personally don’t see this as the case in the most common examples of Shadow Of War and Battlefront II.
I’m currently playing through Shadow Of War and am yet to reach the much discussed endgame difficulty spike. Hearing of a such a spike did not shock me as uneven difficulty pacing has been a feature of video games since time immemorial. Usually, difficulty problems receive a one-paragraph mention in reviews and the player resigns themselves to a bit of grind to hurdle that section of the game.
It seems that the presence of optional loot crates has suddenly made the above completely unacceptable. I would wager that this is partly psychological; simply knowing you can pay to make the game easier is lessening player’s enjoyment as they refuse to part with the money to do so. I believe, had the option not been there, gamers would have pushed through the end and mentioned to others in later discussion, ‘Yeah, the game was great but the end was a bit too hard’.
On top of that, the option to pay to make a game easier has always existed in gaming; strategy guides and the Nintendo Hotline being prime examples.
In regards to Battlefront II, I would first remark that we have only played an early beta and do not know if the character progression will work in the same fashion in the full release.
Having said that, I played the beta on and off over both the closed and open periods and at no time found myself disadvantaged compared to another player by anything other than my own skill (except when Darth Maul came out, but that’s another story…).
For Battlefield II, I feel the real issue is randomised progression and I’m sure that’ll be picked up in the reviews. Knowing EA, if the backlash is strong enough they’ll patch in a better progression system down the line.
In summary, the mechanics which loot crates are designed to overcome either: a) have been present in the video game industry since its inception or b) are simply bad mechanics which will be critically reviewed accordingly so players know before going in.
GC: Loot crates aren’t designed to overcome anything, they’re designed to make money. But you make some fair points. Although the issue with Shadow Of War, and any single-player game that includes loot boxes, is precisely that you can’t trust the difficultly level. Is the difficult spike at the end a genuine design decision or just an excuse to tempt people into buying loot boxes? It creates a level of distrust and uncertainty that is very concerning.