The words "loot boxes" are something you've probably heard a lot these days. The commercial practice of letting players pay real money for boxes that may contain random elements of variable value has been in the spotlight negatively for some time, but it was not until "Star Wars: Battlefront II" came out and revealed how predatory the commercial practice really was that people were really starting to realize. The game requires you to spend thousands of dollars, or hours, to unlock everything you had to offer, which should have been free in the first place. The obviously obvious response from EA (who designed the system in that way to give players "a sense of pride and achievement") because the most rejected publication in the history of Reddit.
While the company reduced the requirements to unlock characters, weapons, vehicles and other items, the damage was already done. Players are now seeing loot boxes in general as nothing more than glorified slot machines that would feel right at home on https://slots.info/, with conversations from certain states and governments banning the practice. And that is, frankly, a bit embarrbading, because many multiplayer games are based on booty boats to survive at all, and may be forced to change their business model (and, therefore, its design) significantly to stay afloat . So, instead of directly banning loot boxes, why do not we examine some ways in which they can be improved, so that they do not take advantage of the players while still providing profits to the developers? For example …
1. They should only contain non-essential elements
The fact is that you can not really hide anything that could seriously affect your game in a loot. If someone buys a Star Wars game that advertises Darth Vader, then that person should be able to play as Darth Vader from the moment he put it on. Anything that affects the gameplay, whether characters or weapons, or even statistical item increases, should be kept out of the boxes and provided to the player through other means. On the other hand, there are many elements that players would like to buy, but they do not affect the game at all, such as additional costumes for the characters, alternative searches for weapons, teasing and sprays that people can use to thrash their opponents, music that you can play in the background, decorations … The only limits, beyond those defined by the game and its mechanics, are linked to the creativity of the developers. Unlocking Darth Vader through loot boxes is a terrible idea, but using them to unlock a costume for Darth Vader that shows how he would look if he had never fallen in the lava sounds incredible.
2. They should not have duplicate items
There's nothing more frustrating than spending real money on loot boxes and discovering that you already own all the items you won. It is a waste of money! Blizzard's "Overwatch" is a particularly bad example, with creative director Jeff Kaplan openly stating that he would need "an infinite amount of content" to avoid having duplicate elements, which is objectively false. Of course, when you look at a superficial level, your statement makes sense: what elements would a player take out of a loot once they have won absolutely everything? The solution is simple, and involves simply refusing to sell more loot to players who have unlocked everything until they add more content so they can buy. Let's face it, if it costs $ 100,000 to unlock each skin, mockery and anything else you have in the loot boxes at launch, the overwhelming majority of people will not reach that limit in the few months it takes. you to add new content. 99.999% of players will never reach that limit, so worrying about it is not a problem.
3. They should be easily available for free
The loot boxes should never be "premium-only", they should be fully unlockable only through the game. And, for your credit, most developers do, for example, the "Overwatch" mentioned above gives you one box per level. But this should be taken one step further. Free mobile games have perfected that business model, and the fact that the biggest ones get millions of dollars every month shows that it works. The idea is that if a player gets roughly one loot per game hour (measured in games played, or kills scored, or a similar measure), that's great! But then you can get five for just one dollar and 30 for five! While the individual loot per hour box is fantastic and enough to keep players running who can not afford more investments, who would not want to get 30 instantly when it comes to the cost of a decent Starbucks coffee? The whales will spend thousands to unlock as much as they can, and most of their players will pay a couple of dollars per month. With a decent enough installation base, that's a lot of cash raised even with all the boxes you give out for free!