Reviews - Updated on April 13, 2022

A rare edition did not kick Middle-earth: Shadow of War for loot boxes – boxes sold for money that guarantee friendship with the legendary orcs, give powerful items and at the same time shorten the path to the “real” denouement of the story. Some critics felt the mechanics were redundant: what’s the point of paying to not fight orcs in an orc fighting game? Others said it was unfair, because Shadow of War is being sold at full price: why shake coins out of the buyer, as if from Pinocchio in the Land of Fools? At the same time, both those and others understand that it is not Monolith at all with Warner Bros. a taboo has been broken, and the issue is as fresh as Swedish surströmming.

Center of ignition

A loot box, or a loot chest, is a type of microtransaction that is being introduced into already paid games with varying degrees of adequacy. For example, you give hard-earned 2,000 rubles for a certain AAA novelty, and then they explain to you that you can cut the road in some places and somehow decorate the hero at the expense of additional investments. Do you want to gawk at fatalities in Mortal Kombat X without finger gymnastics? Pay. Want an invulnerable base in Metal Gear Solid V? Pay. Weakly pass Deus Ex: Mankind Divided without power-ups? Ha-ha-ha, well, you and … pay. This unpretentious approach became a trend long before the advertising campaign for Middle-earth: Shadow of War.Loot boxes were invented in Mordor: the pros and cons of microtransactions

“Will Kolya come out to play? Then let the loot box throw it out of the window.”

The real irony is that there is an unwritten rule, or rather, a rule written in black and white a thousand times. Games that cost money should not have microtransactions that seriously affect the balance. That is, any buyer has the opportunity to get the same thing that his colleague gets, throwing a few dollars more into the publisher’s pocket. Because it’s either about cosmetic changes, as is the case with “skins” for weapons and uniforms in Rainbow Six Siege, or about the difference in labor costs required to achieve the goal. Unlike MMO users and free-to-play entertainment, the owner of a 60 bucks game doesn’t get anything for an additional fee, except for beams of goodness from the office of some Electronic Arts.

It’s amazing, but even in this form, which gives purely ephemeral joys, the system works properly – and the billions Blizzard cut down on loot boxes for Overwatch is proof of this. Although it would seem – pure water lottery. And once it turns out for some, the experience is adopted by others. And as a result, microtransactions are moving from the multiplayer format to where you don’t expect them at all – to AAA games with an eye on the story. Remember how you met Dead Space 3 at one time? The journalists of the Eurogamer website found that they could not collect weapons according to the recipe on the workbench – they did not have enough resources that can either be searched for locations or instantly bought for real money. Space action producer John Calhoun was forced to make an acquittal: Yes, there will be payments, but they are only for those who want instant results.

Today the shy excuses are over. Publisher PRs report microtransactions on a blue eye, as if they were insignificant trifles. These are optional things: who does not want, he does not pay. The only question is whether the press makes a molehill out of a fly, or villainy is really happening before our eyes.

Loot boxes were invented in Mordor: the pros and cons of microtransactions

Ubisoft started flirting with micropayments in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but it didn’t ruin the game and generally didn’t bother anyone.

Smile and wave

To better understand the issue, let’s do this: first we discuss the advantages, and then the disadvantages of the system. It’s hard to believe, but micropayments are a sign of the health of the gaming industry, although they are sometimes presented as symptoms of its illness. Because the cost of games is growing exponentially: this applies to development, and advertising budget, and support after the release. However, the retail price of entertainment in the AAA segment has been at the same level for years – around $ 60 (with us it is much cheaper when it comes to PC games).

By raising the price bar even higher, publishers risk losing part of their loyal audience. And write lost. Decrease in sales will lead to the extinction of big-budget blockbusters as a species – do you need it? But how many options does the business have in this case? Let’s say you can sell add-ons. If the two-fifty horse armor for TES IV: Oblivion outraged many, now you will not surprise anyone with such. Have you ever tried to count DLC for Europa Universalis IV or Crusader Kings II? And, imagine, each costs money.

Further – more: season passes, cards, sets of “skins” and other jewelry. Of course, not all additions turn out to be as large-scale and cool as, for example, “Blood and Wine” for the third “The Witcher”. In fact, the items and features available for microtransactions are similar to most DLCs, only they are called differently. Sometimes one is directly related to the other: by earning on loot boxes, developers receive money to produce new content or a budget for polishing their works after release. For us as consumers, it is important that we managed to avoid sharp jumps in the prices of games, even though due to add-ons and microtransactions, their real cost has increased. And we didn’t even notice it. If someone noticed, let them pay tribute to self-sufficient projects like Prey and do not criticize the Our Choice sticker in the review.

Loot boxes were invented in Mordor: the pros and cons of microtransactions

Just imagine: you buy a loot box in Prey, and this is a mimic.

Another benefit of blockbuster microtransactions is that they can be ignored. No one forces you to go to extra costs: you bought the game once – go through it calmly. And leave loot boxes and other ways to shell out gamers in excess of what is supposed to be left to the hasty and show off. Or those who have nowhere to put money.

Even with Shadow of War, not everything is as simple as it seemed at first. First off, here’s a comment from a Steam user: “Got legendary chieftains from a chest, put them in my army… 5 minutes later I’m betrayed by one, 15 minutes later I accidentally attack another’s blood brother. And once they betray you, they can’t be re-recruited.” Secondly, most of the negative reviews are not related to loot boxes at all, but to the insufficiently high, according to the authors, quality of the fantasy action game, including its technical part. In other words, condemning Monolith and Warner Bros. for miracle boxes – it’s like confusing warm with soft. This is really an optional mechanic that in a global sense helps the release of large works.

cat in a bag

Now let’s talk about it – about the greed of publishers, which has long become a byword. It is no coincidence that Electronic Arts uses loot boxes in the FIFA series and switches to them in Battlefront II – in exchange for the season pass. After all, this mechanic is beneficial in that it involves an element of chance. Maybe you get exactly what you need, or maybe not. Let’s say you are handed a thing that you already have in your inventory, or some useless rubbish. When you spend money on a sealed box, you cannot predict in advance what exactly you will get. This, in a nutshell, is the reason why the dissatisfied are turning to the ESRB to increase the age rating of games that use this form of microtransactions. Tea did not come to the casino.Loot boxes were invented in Mordor: the pros and cons of microtransactions

“Questionable containers and outdated weapons are no substitute for a good blaster, son.”

On the other hand, the public is outraged by the very fact of the presence of paid services in the game for $60. A natural reaction to this is a feeling of anxiety: have they deceived me, have they sold a part instead of the whole? The psyche is also oppressed by the fact that microtransactions, even aesthetically, put gamers in different conditions. Just like in the aphorism of George Orwell (George Orwell): all people are equal, but some are more equal. And who likes the smell of cheap free-to-play in an action game with a multi-million dollar budget?

Finally, such an attitude towards the consumer is fraught with problems in the foreseeable future. After all, the commercial effectiveness of loot boxes convinced publishers that it was more profitable to sell a service, not a game, and that a series, feeding content by the teaspoon, multiplayer, competition between players, and not a solid campaign for one, filed entirely and at once, would bring more profit. I said above that DLC sales and microtransactions are neither shaky nor big, but support AAA products, but who guarantees that the status quo will continue in a few years? However, until we wake up in a world where all games have become MMOs, there is room for optimism in us. What do you think of loot boxes?

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