Lessons of the Lootbox – Full of Fail #39

Late last year the idea of Lootboxes as a core mechanic in full-price AAA games came to a head with “Shadows of War”, “Call of Duty WW2”, and let’s not forget the disaster that was “Star Wars Battlefront II”. Each of these introduced lootboxes into their gameplay as a core mechanic, which is at the very least quasi-gambling through a Skinner Box, if not gambling in a fully legal sense (yet). Many people complained that this was pushing gambling at games played by minors, which is generally illegal and certainly immoral, thus their concern (among other reasons). There was also a concern that people who pay full price for a game shouldn’t have to deal with monetization mechanics from Free-to-Play games, like lootboxes and microtransactions.

So today I ponder this topic a bit deeper. If lootboxes are quasi-gambling at the very least, and we should “think of the children!”, when it comes to games that include them, then why are we okay with them being generally a core mechanic of most Free-to-Play games? Especially MMORPGs, but other games as well, because these are games children are more likely to play, since they don’t need their parent’s credit card in order to start playing them? In short, are the days of lootboxes and other quasi-gambling mechanics numbered for all games (other than those only adults can gain access to)?

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