As coincidence would have it - what actually is a Loot Chest?
Saved up a fair amount of in-game currency or reached for the credit card yourself in hot anticipation of the next Loot Chest? Today, the Loot Box is almost synonymous with gaming. And not always with best practices. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the history of the Loot Box, its function and popularity. Plus, we'll tell you how to take even a bad draw with a casual shrug of the shoulders.
The function of the Loot Chest in gaming - where does the high popularity come from?
The first Loot Chests were found in a Japanese MMORPG and were sold as tickets at that time. But even then just sold. This is still an important feature of many Loot Boxes in games today and also creates certain legal and moral tensions - but more on that later. For 100 yen you could buy a so-called Gachapon Ticket at the turn of the millennium, with which you received a random item. As far as that goes, it's nothing more than collecting Panini pictures, a virtual Ü-egg, so to speak. The historical development coincided with a change in the gaming industry, driven by developers like Zynga. Zynga is a studio that did not develop AAA games for the PC, but casual games for Facebook. The Free-2-Play model became increasingly popular around 2009. But of course, studios developing Free-2-Play games also need to eat and live - which in turn requires a way to make money. Free-to-play games henceforth had a connected online store where players could buy items for small amounts of cents or euros. Microtransactions and lootboxes are still something many gamers are allergic to today.
The function of the Loot Chest in gaming Part II
Especially because some games make it difficult to get a desired item and because it's not entirely clear what's hidden in the surprise boxes. The tactics get really nasty when it's not just about style, but about gameplay advantages. Pay-to-win and Loot Chests are two models that get along very well and turn games into gambling. The BBC recently focused on the Loot Box in gaming and its dark side (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-56614281). The summary: Around 5 percent of all gamers spend more than 100 USD per month on boxes and not necessarily because they can afford it. The legal background is just about legal in many countries, and that's only because items from lootboxes can't be exchanged back into real money. At least not in an official way. However, if studios set out to trigger people with a tendency to gambling addiction during development, they can do so.
How can you recognize and avoid gambling addiction with Loot Boxes?
Basically, there is nothing wrong with the Loot Box, even if some games like Fortnite have distanced themselves from it completely in favor of a Season Pass and stores. First of all, you should always ask yourself if the gains in the Loot Chest give you a gameplay advantage or just a visual modification. Looking more stylish is a plus, a better gun is a must. If you have to open a hundred surprise boxes for the best MP, you're very likely to get ripped off.
Also, you should see how fairly the developers play. For example, do they show you how likely a grand prize is. On some platforms, such as the Apple App Store, this is a must. You should also not be fooled by rotating winnings. The fact that all winnings flash past you is a virtual illusion. Your result will be picked by the Random Number Generator as soon as you click Open. Twitching past the main prize is a mechanic that is also known from casinos. Think of the claw that drops the stuffed animal after all. Psychologically, this is called a near win, and for people with gambling addiction, it triggers a dopamine rush like the win itself, so they keep playing. The high profile of Loot Chests even outside of gambling circles comes mainly from these negative headlines. All of these are just a few things to keep in mind when opening up Loot Boxes. With a fair model, cosmetic items or costumes earned through gameplay (such as in Dota 2), nothing stands in the way of fun and excitement when opening them.
Loot box in gaming - where does the term come from?
The fact that we generally speak of Loot Boxes is not at all self-evident. The umbrella term refers to many categories in games, which are usually called something else in the games. Keys in Teamfortress 2, Card Packs in FIFA Ultimate Team, but it always means the same thing: a box with randomly generated content. The term "loot" actually originates from role-playing games, in which opponents are looted. But even there, games like Diablo have already used random number generators. And whether you find the golden pineapple or the cloak of invulnerability when RNGesus is kind to you may have been the origin of the term for the box with the random contents. In many cases, the translation also makes sense if you pay with XP in the Season Pass or in-game currency. Then the crate has actually been captured. You can now find such loot chests not only in games, but also in pack form or in the app.
The Loot Chest in real life
Surprise boxes are not only found in games, but they also have a counterpart in our physical reality. Filled with merch, providers like Lootcrate offer monthly boxes with various items, toys or clothes related to games, TV, movies and pop culture. Kind of like a birthday gift to yourself - you never know exactly what's inside, but you don't have to plan on shopping coupons either. Plus, the boxes arrive conveniently to your doorstep. Lootboy takes the mix of Loot Chests, gaming, and leisure a notch further, letting you open boxes on the go from your smartphone. Of course, you don't know what exactly you'll get beforehand, but most rewards will give you a little bonus in real life.
These include content for Xbox Live or codes for full-price games. In cooperation with games like Dota 2 or Paladin, on the other hand, you get virtual items. There is also always something outside of gaming, such as vouchers for Netflix or Zalando. Lootboy's Loot Boxes can be downloaded for Android or iPhone or played in the browser. Here, too, you don't know in advance exactly what you'll get for your money. But unlike the funfair, there are no losers here, so you'll definitely get your money's worth.
The eternal popularity of the Loot Chest or a discontinued model?
Even kids love to crack open a surprise egg and search for lucky hippos while the chocolate is still in their mouths. Of course, opening a box is fun for you too, and it should be. As humans, we just can't help but enjoy a positive surprise, and after all, that's what it's supposed to do. Sure, there's a lot to criticize about many systems surrounding Loot Chests. Shadow of Mordor 2 is considered a historic dam-breaker in this regard - the first full-price game that not only offered paid extra items, but also randomly generated them. In full-price titles, the Loot Box has long been synonymous with the publisher's greed for making players pay twice.
Last but not least
Games like Overwatch have also done a lot of damage here, with developers giving away virtual goods exclusively via Loot Box instead of making them freely available or offering them for purchase. Such mechanisms invite vulnerable players to spend significantly more money. The fact that many games have now switched to Season Passes with one-time payments, fixed winnings, and XP earned in-game is - unlike the content of Loot Boxes - no coincidence. Whether you prefer to know what you're buying in the online store or also like to pull cosmetic items from the random generator is, of course, up to you. And if you really want to get value for your effort, then real crates with discount codes, toys or merch are the better choice for you.