In interesting news, a few weeks ago EA noted that they would be removing all “power” related items from their lockboxes and going for 100% cosmetics instead. I don’t quite get how that matters now, or in relation to their abysmal PR team, but it certainly have weight in the overall industry.
Monolith recently announced a step further recently, where all loot boxes are going away. For reasons. Reasons that sound good (removes the experience) but also makes you wonder at the fundamentals behind the decision.
For those unawares, SoM has two modes. The story mode that has you follow an absurd lore-breaking story to a large (and stupid) climax. The combat power-curve is gradual, and just normal un-focused gameplay is enough to get you through. Once complete, the “non-stop siege mode”, or more like “perpetual fortress grind mode” is what’s left. You need to build up your realm with (epic) orcs who have a diverse skill set. Ad-infinitum. Acquiring these orcs is either through gameplay or through loot boxes. They were certainly not required to keep moving forward in the rankings, but they did save a lot of time.
And truthfully, by skipping the “grind” you did lose out on the experience of developing your own tactics. Understanding how to infiltrate an enemy base without getting squashed by god-like orcs is 99% of the fun of SoM. Turning on invincible mode defeats that purpose.
I will recall Diablo3 and the real-money auction house (RMAH) debacle that Jay Wilson brought about. At no point did reason, human psychology, or actual metrics even come into play. It was launched, made a crap ton of money (I made money on this too), and then managed to burn out the core player base until Jay was shown the door. Blizzard has tried (and succeeded) at finding the most efficient ways to have games part with their money, but this was a mis-step that thankfully was rectified.
MMOs and eastern-games aside, this does bode well for the trend against boxes. It doesn’t solve the financial issues that developers face on a regular basis, and it’s got to be hard to give up the money-cow these suckers provide. Finding alternative ways to get people to give up their money, without having the government pass laws to prevent you, should be the next frontier. Should be quite interesting to see how EA manages to find the next big idea to exploit, and get bad press. Or maybe that’s the cynic in me.