LootGate - The Great Loot Crate/Microtransaction Debate

King Tones

Distinguished Member
Rather than cluttering up Battlefront 2 Threads and other ones that have evil Loot Crates.
Use this for all discussions.

So Loot Crates & Microtransactions Good Or Bad ??

Have at it.
 

iwb100

Distinguished Member
Bad, but arguably far worse things are to come. And we can't ignore the fact that cost of making games has gone up, yet the cost of buying them hasn't.

Are optional MTs worse than other ways of generating revenue that publishers will consider?
 

SteakAndCake

Distinguished Member
There's a few different issues here.

A crate granting random content that is purely cosmetic with zero connection to gameplay or progression is fine with me.

Any gameplay mechanic that penalises non micro-transaction buyers with artificial barriers to progression or gameplay mechanics is obnoxious.

Random content granted via real world money should be legislated but only for children. It does encourage and reinforce gambling behaviour which can harm the developing mind.

So I support banning them in games sold to under 18 but not in general. I think a total ban is state overreach. Adults stupid enough to waste money on this **** should be free to do so in a free country.

Battlefront is just the game the community decided was their hill to die on. A perfect storm of EA, Star Wars, and Loot Crates. Talking specifically about SWBF2, the content granted via crates does not particularly give a large advantage. Where they really suck is that the general progression of the game is slow, irritating, and grindy. That hasn't changed by EA temporarily abandoning crystal sales. SWBF2 is a perfect example of a game which had enormous potential which EA chose to deliberately thwart by shoehorning in a terrible progression system solely to facilitate post launch revenue. The fact they chose to damage a Star Wars game just drew the wrath and attention of more people. People know DICE make great multiplayer games and they know Star Wars is awesome. Now they also know that EA would sacrifice both the things they love for greed.
 

Lostsoul 301281

Well-known Member
MTX and loot crates which are tied to progression are straight up wrong.
Certain recent releases have had content essentially locked behind a grind/paywall, meaning that you either spend X amount of extra hours than you’d expect, or spend real money to buy what you need to circumvent the extra hours.
Or worse, your progress is straight up tied to loot crates which can be bought by others who are willing to pay, meaning they have an unfair advantage over someone who isn’t going to pay that extra.

On top of that, loot crates are a gamble, as you’re not guaranteed to get what you need/want.
This is actually being debated in certain countries now as to wether or not loot crates should be considered gambling. Especially as these are being implemented in games which are aimed or at least will be played by a younger audience.

Not to mention that these practices are in games which we’re already paying £50 for.


I have not issue with proper DLC(previously known as expansions) and season passes which bundles these DLCs together at a discount.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Agree with the others. Have no problem with crates that offer cosmetic items. I've bought a few in PUBG.

Crates that offer items that you can't get during the game such as better weapons, unlocks etc should be banned.
 

Lostsoul 301281

Well-known Member
Agree with the others. Have no problem with crates that offer cosmetic items. I've bought a few in PUBG.

Crates that offer items that you can't get during the game such as better weapons, unlocks etc should be banned.
The cosmetic stuff can still be considered a gamble, as there's no guarantee that you'll get items you want.

Pretty Good Gaming on YouTube have been following this for quite a while, and summarising the whole situation.

As I said above, pay-to-win and general MTX don't belong in full priced games.
Having them in free-to-play games is different, as long as they're not loot boxes, which are essentially gambling(this is still being debated in Belgium, Australia and now quite seriously in the US).
The Battlefront situation is one of the most extreme cases.
The whole progression system was locked behind loot crates, and even unlocking characters such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader was calculated would take 40 hours per character.
The whole thing got so serious that a Disney boss got in touch with someone big shot at EA and basically gave them a total bollocking.
Even share prices were affected by it.
It's basically bad press for the Star Wars brand this close to a main series film coming out.

But that's just one huge story.

Overall, these chance loot boxes are dangerous for vulnerable people as it is basically gambling.
I'll admit I get a slight rush opening the loot boxes I earn with in-game credits, which in turn are earned playing the game.
That is what these loot boxes are designed to do. To elicit that rush of winning at a game of chance.
You've just unlocked that MP character you've wanted, but there's still one or two others that you want. So instead of grinding out another X amount of hours to earn the credit to buy another crate, you're offered the ability to pay actual money for the possibility of maybe getting that character you want.

Then there's the crap like the resources you needed to collect in Dead Space 3 which allowed you to build new weapons.
The weapon building system was drastically changed from the previous games and built around making people want to buy these single use packs containing resources so they could build their weapons.
Yes, you could find said resources in game, but it would take time, again designed to make people want to take a short cut.
This was a full price, single player game.
These practices have no place here.


I have no issue what so ever with real additional content, like the Shivering Isles in Oblivion(let's not talk about horse armour...), or any of the Fallout 3 add-ons, and even the 2 episodes for GTA IV.
All of these added to the game, giving you extra hours of gameplay.
Fallout 4 did the season pass pretty well too, giving you access to all of the games extra content at a discount compared to buying them all separately.
Gears of War 3 did something similar by bundling all the map packs and the extra story into a season pass.
That to me is DLC done right.
No MTX or loot crate BS.
 

terencejames

Active Member
I'm sorry but if you're paying £50+ for a game, you shouldn't have to pay for anything else. I don't have a problem with levelling up your character through putting in the hours but these micro transactions are a scourge at the moment.
 

SteakAndCake

Distinguished Member
The other issue that needs addressing is AAA cost.

Developers argue that games have risen very little with inflation and this is true, while their costs are spiralling out of control. They cite this as justification for adding P2W, loot crates, paid DLC, and microtransactions.

The reason costs are spiralling is because EA, Activision, and Ubisoft seem to think they're Hollywood studios. They think they need to offer cutting edge, photo realistic 4K HDR visuals and famous voice acting. This is nonsense. Look at games like Battlegrounds, CS:GO, or even the new COD. All look terrible. Just really bad and yet both either sold more or have more active players than SWBF2.

Chasing realism is a cost sink and one offering gamers very little benefit. Ignoring visuals, can we really say that SWBF2 is a better game than the original Battlefront 2 from 2004? Objectively, no. The old one is better in every way, has more depth, has more content, than the new one.

DICE recently claimed they could not offer customisating soldiers in Battlefield 1 like they had in BF3 and 4 because the animation, lighting, and texturing were so advanced, the cost of iterating new content was no longer cost effective. If they took a step back on the visuals, they could offer more content that was cheaper to produce. I don't think anyone would look at Battlefield 3 and say it's a bad looking game. It's still stunning. Are the slightly better looking visuals of Battlefield 1 really worth the loss of game player choice, content, and customisation?
 

iwb100

Distinguished Member
The other issue that needs addressing is AAA cost.

Developers argue that games have risen very little with inflation and this is true, while their costs are spiralling out of control. They cite this as justification for adding P2W, loot crates, paid DLC, and microtransactions.

The reason costs are spiralling is because EA, Activision, and Ubisoft seem to think they're Hollywood studios. They think they need to offer cutting edge, photo realistic 4K HDR visuals and famous voice acting. This is nonsense. Look at games like Battlegrounds, CS:GO, or even the new COD. All look terrible. Just really bad and yet both either sold more or have more active players than SWBF2.

Chasing realism is a cost sink and one offering gamers very little benefit. Ignoring visuals, can we really say that SWBF2 is a better game than the original Battlefront 2 from 2004? Objectively, no. The old one is better in every way, has more depth, has more content, than the new one.

DICE recently claimed they could not offer customisating soldiers in Battlefield 1 like they had in BF3 and 4 because the animation, lighting, and texturing were so advanced, the cost of iterating new content was no longer cost effective. If they took a step back on the visuals, they could offer more content that was cheaper to produce. I don't think anyone would look at Battlefield 3 and say it's a bad looking game. It's still stunning. Are the slightly better looking visuals of Battlefield 1 really worth the loss of game player choice, content, and customisation?
Nah. If every game abandoned AAA principles and polish then the market would be saturated in average looking games and everyone would moan.

You want your high production value AAAs. They are massive for the industry.

People either need to accept something like optional MTXs or loot boxes. Or pay more for the base game. Or some other model to make up the revenue for publishers and devs.
 

Toasty

Distinguished Member
Companies should be making games that sell well, a quality, well promoted game will. What's missing from this conversation is the fact that Micro transactions are designed to milk money from people who already bought the game, they are irrelevant to anyone not buying the game. If the game sold to more people, that £50 price tag nets the company a lot more cash.

Comparing with other media, one film may have a budget of £100million, a smaller film £5million, they are both at the cinema for £10 and success is measured on whether the ticket sales exceed the production budget. Both cases can turn profit and loss depending on a lot of factors, but generally how well the film is received.

The micro transaction models for me are showing a worrying trend toward changing how the base game is made specifically to generate cash from early adopters, if they can get X amount of people into their pay systems and keep throwing loot at them, maybe they don't need to worry about bigger sales numbers. This is the free 2 play model, but with a £50 entry fee.

In all other media, extra content is offered to fans, but it doesn't change the original experience, but in gaming, micro transactions are being associated with easing 'grind', 'chance' of new characters, gaining an 'advantage' over others right from the moment you've installed the game. Do we want more grind, more luck, more imbalance in the core mechanics of future games?
 

iwb100

Distinguished Member
Companies should be making games that sell well, a quality, well promoted game will. What's missing from this conversation is the fact that Micro transactions are designed to milk money from people who already bought the game, they are irrelevant to anyone not buying the game. If the game sold to more people, that £50 price tag nets the company a lot more cash.

Comparing with other media, one film may have a budget of £100million, a smaller film £5million, they are both at the cinema for £10 and success is measured on whether the ticket sales exceed the production budget. Both cases can turn profit and loss depending on a lot of factors, but generally how well the film is received.

The micro transaction models for me are showing a worrying trend toward changing how the base game is made specifically to generate cash from early adopters, if they can get X amount of people into their pay systems and keep throwing loot at them, maybe they don't need to worry about bigger sales numbers. This is the free 2 play model, but with a £50 entry fee.

In all other media, extra content is offered to fans, but it doesn't change the original experience, but in gaming, micro transactions are being associated with easing 'grind', 'chance' of new characters, gaining an 'advantage' over others right from the moment you've installed the game. Do we want more grind, more luck, more imbalance in the core mechanics of future games?
We're being undercharged for games though. They're cheaper now than they were 20 years ago for god sake. Yet the cost of making them is infinitely higher.

Its clear that the industry isn't sustainable on current models. Let us not ignore the reports of how horribly many development companies treat their staff, the crunch, the relatively low pay, the "threats" if anyone complains. The industry is not a particularly pleasant place. Probably because the squeeze is worst at the bottom.

Either way pay more for our games or they find other ways to increase revenue. Making games is not a charity and generally relies on investor capital for projects to even start. We have to start to realise the realities of making games and also the realities of the market.

You can't have this discussion from a single "I'm a gamer, I demand this" point of view. You're a consumer and if you don't like the product you don't buy it. Market forces will dictate what is acceptable or not.

My worry is tarnishing all MTXs and loot boxes as "bad" means other things will take their place that will be worse!
 

SteakAndCake

Distinguished Member
We're being undercharged for games though. They're cheaper now than they were 20 years ago for god sake. Yet the cost of making them is infinitely higher.

Its clear that the industry isn't sustainable on current models. Let us not ignore the reports of how horribly many development companies treat their staff, the crunch, the relatively low pay, the "threats" if anyone complains. The industry is not a particularly pleasant place. Probably because the squeeze is worst at the bottom.

Either way pay more for our games or they find other ways to increase revenue. Making games is not a charity and generally relies on investor capital for projects to even start. We have to start to realise the realities of making games and also the realities of the market.

You can't have this discussion from a single "I'm a gamer, I demand this" point of view. You're a consumer and if you don't like the product you don't buy it. Market forces will dictate what is acceptable or not.

My worry is tarnishing all MTXs and loot boxes as "bad" means other things will take their place that will be worse!
Yep, remember in 1992, Street Fighter 2 for the SNES was something like £90 back then. AAA games are too cheap now. The question is, do gamers want £100 AAA games with super shiny graphics or would they rather have £50 games with graphics that looks like they did 3 years ago?
 

iwb100

Distinguished Member
Yep, remember in 1992, Street Fighter 2 for the SNES was something like £90 back then. AAA games are too cheap now. The question is, do gamers want £100 AAA games with super shiny graphics or would they rather have £50 games with graphics that looks like they did 3 years ago?
I want £50 with super shiny graphics. If to do that they have to include MTXs and loot crates then I'm fine with that. That is far better than either of your options.

Also the cost generally isn't the "graphics" its the cut scenes, story writing, voice acting, production etc etc....

You can probably make loads of cheaper games. Generally MP only are cheaper to make as you need far less production. PUBG a great example. A brilliant game by a small studio. But if that sort of game was the ONLY option then I think that would kill the industry.
 

SteakAndCake

Distinguished Member
You can probably make loads of cheaper games. Generally MP only are cheaper to make as you need far less production. PUBG a great example. A brilliant game by a small studio. But if that sort of game was the ONLY option then I think that would kill the industry.

er, why? it's the most played game with a playerbase eclipsing all AAA multiplayer combined.

EA would kill for a game with those sales figures, retained player, and tiny costs.
 

Toasty

Distinguished Member
At no point am I advocating not making extra from games with extra content, its the changing of core mechanics to target people who will tolerate pay to skip / buff systems that has brought about these headlines and quite correctly. EA have pushed things too far recently and this is the market reacting, it will hopefully balance out in a positive way.

The games industry is no different to any other and no other media industry is asking the consumers to fork out big increases in product prices to enjoy the base product. If a film that cost £100 million to make flops, the film industry moves on and adjusts its thinking.

If games production costs are as bad as you say, how can there be such a spread in prices and models already? From £2 mini games to £80+ deluxe AAA editions and everything in between. The reason is each studio knows what they're creating and how to make money from it. If the big companies with big production costs are shifting focus from chasing high sales figures to cannibalising existing sales, then the core gameplay is going to suffer in the long run.


EA would kill for a game with those sales figures, retained player, and tiny costs.
Indeed, create a good game, create sales, make money..
 

iwb100

Distinguished Member
er, why? it's the most played game with a playerbase eclipsing all AAA multiplayer combined.

EA would kill for a game with those sales figures, retained player, and tiny costs.
Its selling well because its unique. If everyone tries to make games like that you dilute the market. If everyone says "ok scrap single player its cheaper to make MP games we can release as early access and build on" how many of those can the market sustain?

You're being too simplistic. The answer is to carry on doing what they are doing. If the market won't sustain microtransactions they can try a different model.

But gamers need to be less reactionary and far more specific in their complaints.
 

iwb100

Distinguished Member
If games production costs are as bad as you say, how can there be such a spread in prices and models already? From £2 mini games to £80+ deluxe AAA editions and everything in between. The reason is each studio knows what they're creating and how to make money from it. If the big companies with big production costs are shifting focus from chasing high sales figures to cannibalising existing sales, then the core gameplay is going to suffer in the long run.
Because you can't compare small single figure indie developed games to SWBF2.

Production costs are going up. That is a fact. They have been for 20 years. But game prices haven't. If we want a healthy industry we need models where that gap is covered. Because remember those investing in games development want returns and those returns need to be competitive or they'll invest elsewhere and bang...no games.

I'm saying do gamers want EVERYONE to pay or do they want those that choose to buy optional MTXs to foot the bill?

I agree that BF2 was a poor, poor progression system that was compounded by its reliance on loot crates. But the issue should be about progression and making that right rather than MTXs and loot crates becoming universally a "problem". Its a little like Daily Mail rhetoric right now. The subtleties of the issue are ignored and instead systems that have been fine in many games for a while will be tarnished. And if it gets to the point where devs won't risk including them for fear of a backlash, something will replace them. Mark my words. And I suspect that something is likely to be far, far worse for all gamers, not just a few who decide to spend their own money of their own accord.
 

Lostsoul 301281

Well-known Member
Nah. If every game abandoned AAA principles and polish then the market would be saturated in average looking games and everyone would moan.

You want your high production value AAAs. They are massive for the industry.

People either need to accept something like optional MTXs or loot boxes. Or pay more for the base game. Or some other model to make up the revenue for publishers and devs.
Okay, let's look at something like Halo.
Many fans complained about the style shift in Halo 4.
It went from an almost "cartoon" style(basically not overly realistic) to a more photo realistic style.
I'm pretty sure a game like Halo would not suffer if it wasn't up to the standard it's currently attempting.
If it had kept the style of Halo 3(or even Reach as it was a step up from 3) but put more detail and resolution in there, no one would have complained.
And look at Gears of War.
Again, a game which isn't relying on photo realism, but is still a successful franchise.
Gears 4 isn't a huge leap from Gears 3, although you can see the differences, but it isn't trying to look like Battlefield 1 or CoD WW2.

Even GTA V hasn't gone all out for photo realism.

What I'm getting at is, life like games aren't what gamers are expecting.
Personally I'd take better immersion and more interactivity over photo realistic graphics.
In a game like GTA for example, I'd rather have decent physics, more missions, detailed interiors, more interiors, better randomisation for NPCs and their vehicles and a more immersive world, and sacrifice graphics back to a more GTA IV level.

As long as a game doesn't look like it was built for the PS1, graphics aren't the be all and end all.
There are games out there which were made 9-10 years ago(the first Dead Space is a good example) which still look great, even compared to todays games.

You can't have this discussion from a single "I'm a gamer, I demand this" point of view. You're a consumer and if you don't like the product you don't buy it. Market forces will dictate what is acceptable or not.

My worry is tarnishing all MTXs and loot boxes as "bad" means other things will take their place that will be worse!
In a way you're kind of invalidating something you're trying to say here.
Yes, if we don't like something we can choose not to buy it. And this is the message so many outlets are trying to hammer home to gamers.
Vote with your wallet!
This too could negatively impact gaming.
Sure it's going to have positives, like showing publishers(because it's the publishers who push for MTXs, not the developers) we're not going to put up with their shady practices.
The negative is poor sales of a game meaning less revenue for more games to be made.
I guess that's the point though.
By gamers choosing to boycott games with MTXs and loot crates, this will negatively impact publishers, meaning they'll have to rethink their practices.

And as I've said above, I'm not against proper DLC.
Map packs and extra story content, e.g. the likes of Oblivions Shivering Isles are great. They actually add something to a game.
Loot boxes in general aren't adding anything. Unless they contain content linked to MP progression, as was the case with SWBF2.
MTX are pretty much just single use items which once used cannot used again.
This is usually in-game currency, which is used to buy in-game content, usually consumables.
These items, which can also be obtained in-game through other means, once used are gone and if you want more you're either going to have to grind to get the currency to obtain said items, or pay real world money for the in-game currency to buy more items.

There's really no grey area to these two types of monetising games.

Now, I'm also not against a kind of "games as a service" model. But a pretty specific type.
Take the latest Hitman as an example.
We were able to buy either just the base, first level at a cheap price, or pay for the full game which was drip fed over a number of months.
From what I understand(as I STILL haven't got around to starting it yet), that first level was still pretty big and had plenty of content for it's price.
By the time all other levels had been released it's supposed to be a pretty large game for what you paid for.
IO Interactive can't be doing too badly off the back of it because they've recently gone independent, buying out the rights to some of their games, including Hitman, from SquareEnix.

Now, take that model and apply it to a game like The Elder Scrolls.
Maybe start with a huge map like ESO has(the entire continent of Tamriel).
The base game is centred around one region and has the usual amount of content you'd expect from an Elder Scrolls single player game(maybe a little more as areas in other regions would still be accessible from the start).
Now, instead of Bethesda making a whole new game, they just release quest packs for different regions in the game, thus adding to and continually expanding upon the base game.
Development wouldn't be as intense as the bulk of the game is already out in gamers hands.
They could even release these packs more frequently(yearly?).

I know this is just one game type(open world/RPG), but a similar model could be used for other game types.
I mean, developers have been doing something like this for years already with map packs.
EA over compensated with SWBF2 by offering all future map packs for free as a goodwill gesture following the lacklustre content of the previous game and charging pretty much the cost of the game again for it's map packs.
It was a nice gesture, but as they were already offering 3 times the content of the previous game in SWBF2 base game, I'm pretty sure gamers would have accepted paying for map packs over the current situation.

There are ways to monetise games post release without pissing off gamers.
 

Toasty

Distinguished Member
Because you can't compare small single figure indie developed games to SWBF2.
All these games are available and form the landscape of the industry now when comparing to 20 years ago. And taking this further, perceived AAA games will all have differing budgets too, eg, a quick google shows Destiny at $140m and Watch Dogs $68m back in 2014, yet they will be on the shelves at similar prices on release. Its further complicated by marketing costs + dev costs + licensing costs and that is down to each individual studio to tailor to their target audiences.

Take this further, we have expansions, deluxe editions and season passes that all flavours of game offer variations of to ensure they make up the shortfalls of inflation. To fully buy a game now costs exponentially more than it did 20 years ago, but its counteracted by far more choice.

I agree that gamer rage can cloud individual issues, but I think the core points on Battlefront have been highlighted correctly, are loot crates gambling? Is it pay to win? If EA have over stepped the mark, its definitely up for a review.

I've personally been aware of loot crates for a while, I recall Plants v Zombies with its seed packets for example, my view at the time was its a fun aside to the game when using in game earned currency, but wary of paying with real world cash. But sure enough, this system has made its way into lots of games in more aggressive forms and its starting to affect core gameplay negatively.

I will say I don't fully understand all systems, I see my lad playing Ultimate Team and not quite knowing what he's up to, but I know enough to make him understand the difference between in game currency and real world payments. Systems tempting kids into more and more cash purchases, especially blind purchases, definitely needs some form of regulation.
 

iwb100

Distinguished Member
@Lostsoul 301281 I think you are somewhat confusing art style with production costs/values. Halo/Gears have always been big budget AAA releases. They were never cheap games to make. I also don't think the main H4 complaints were about the art style.

SWBF2 looks stunning. I don't want downgraded games, I'd rather have microtransactions.
 

Lostsoul 301281

Well-known Member
@Lostsoul 301281 I think you are somewhat confusing art style with production costs/values. Halo/Gears have always been big budget AAA releases. They were never cheap games to make. I also don't think the main H4 complaints were about the art style.

SWBF2 looks stunning. I don't want downgraded games, I'd rather have microtransactions.
Surely there's more work that goes in to making a game look more realistic than one which doesn't, and therefore translates into cost.
And I'm not disputing that both of the games I mentioned weren't big budget. But as @Toasty has said, you can have 2 games, released at the same time, sitting next to each other on the shelf with the same price, but one cost $140m to develop, and the other cost half that.

Also, I'm pretty sure there was some backlash with Halo 4's art style shift.
 

SteakAndCake

Distinguished Member
@Lostsoul 301281 I think you are somewhat confusing art style with production costs/values. Halo/Gears have always been big budget AAA releases. They were never cheap games to make. I also don't think the main H4 complaints were about the art style.

SWBF2 looks stunning. I don't want downgraded games, I'd rather have microtransactions.
I have a £1600 PC to play Battlefield 1 on. I turn all the graphics settings down to min except Textures and Mesh to increase FPS to > 100. Graphics are nice but once you get used to them, what's underneath is far more important.
 

Craigy

Well-known Member
In the case of Battlefront 2 if EA cannot make money from one of the most popular game types with the Star Wars branding on it without doing micro transactions then they are doing it wrong.

They got greedy and thought because Star Wars fans quite happily pay for merchandise they can fleece them so put the most aggressive type of items in these loot crates because ‘Star Wars nerds will buy anything’ and they clearly misjudged it.

EA can do one and I hope they don’t make a penny profit on this game
 

shoestring25

Well-known Member
this is how i feel about things

cosmetic items only

microtransactions are fine but loot boxes are not ok

if someone wants to buy a blue hat for their game character for £1 why not? but if someone buys £10 of loot boxes gets loads of stuff they dont want but still cant get the blue hat they want that is out of order.

loot boxes are gambling in my book any time you dont know what your going to get its a gamble.
 

Toasty

Distinguished Member
Interesting, that @Cha1ky video states that EA development costs are falling and peaked a while ago. Since ultimate team they have switched focus to the cheap to develop, but more profitable, loot progression systems that you see all over their products, so no innovation here, or investment in better game content. I also remember the Dungeon Keeper fiasco, clearly EA talk at the time was lip service..
 

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