This past week had been extremely interesting, there’s been a huge debate and backlash over loot boxes in games. EA has taken the brunt of the heat for Star Wars Battlefront 2 but will it have repercussions for Blizzard and what does it mean for a future Diablo game?
Perhaps you’ve not been following the general gaming news much this week but EA has been called out by the Star Wars Battlefront 2 community for terrible progression system decisions and pay to win game mechanics. It’s caused such an uproar that even government bodies around the globe have chipped in.
Belgium’s Minister of Justice has called loot boxes gambling and is now pushing to have them banned in the EU. In Hawaii, a press conference was held with Democrat representative Chris Lee standing up calling them “online casino specifically designed to lure kids into spending money.” Both bodies were specifically targetting Star Wars Battlefront 2 and EA for their “predatory practices” (see video), and rightly so. The game was such a mess that EA disabled all paid for purchases the day before the game launched.
Diablo players know that Blizzard has not exactly pushed out new content as there is no additional revenue stream following the auction house closure. This has been frustrating for everyone and I often read comments from players saying why don’t they add cosmetics of DLC to fund the game? It is an option but it’s not easy cash.
Blizzard is no stranger to loot boxes, it’s what helps keep their latest cash-cow Overwatch running with continual content updates. While Overwatch loot boxes can be earned as rewards by simply playing, the temptation is there to throw cash at the game in the hope you’ll get something you really want. There’s a percentage chance of receiving Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary items nut least the items are not giving players an advantage, unlike Battlefront 2. It’s easy money for Blizzard.
What the authorities are worried about is the addiction factor and whether it can be deemed gambling with younger gamers or vulnerable adults not realising they have become addicted to buying.
The reason this has come to head this week is that EA had created a progression system that locked away key content such as heroes. You would have to play a ridiculous amount of hours just to access the content. Simply put, EA was pushing the limits of what was tolerable.
Imagine you the only way you could find a Legendary was via a loot box or you knew one would only drop if you had at least played X hours. I don’t think many players would be impressed. This begs the question, what will happen with the next Diablo? How will Blizzard monetise the game and what will they do if regulators step in and deem these kinds of game mechanics gambling?
Blizzard will be watching how this plays out very closely because the last thing they would want is the community to rise up like they have against EA.
For more on this week’s loot box debate, check out Peter’s article on this on PC Invasion and let us know what you think about Blizzard and a possible way to monetise the next Diablo with or without loot box mechanics.