Ok lootboxes are a contentious issue for good reason and I thought shall I lend my meagre voice to the cacophony of shouting about it at present? Well I could but it would at present be just another voice in the noise and likely get lost, it would be far better to wait a week or so, throw my voice in then and keep this push going.
The thing is I'm not against Lootboxes entirely, just to the extent they become a cash grab or impact gameplay beyond being cosmetics. To me lootboxes should only be cosmetics (unless they're done very well and in free to play games), and should only exist instead of a season pass and on top of that there are ways to do them better for consumers. If you want lootboxes that have any impact on gameplay they should be in game only with no way (or work around) to get them for real money in any official way really.
So I thought what can I do? What Cblog can I do about lootboxes without just yelling about greedy companies? Then it came to me. I can celebrate games that do them well. I can essentially give a tiny bit of free PR to companies who took lootboxes and did them without taking a steaming dump on their customers.
So those in the Destructoid discord have literally got so fed up of me saying how good this game is some there have actually bought it just to shut me up. I've not done a Cblog specifically about it because I don't want to do it as a review and I don't want to be the person who drives a person away by overhyping something in a Blog here even though I'll happily sing it's praises.
In Slayaway Camp as you play you earn coins. These coins can be used to get new kill animations or unlock whole new Killers. The twist you don't get a choice as to which killer you're buying. Some killers are unlocked by playing through the movies; some killers are extra DLC that instantly unlocks some of them are DLC but were given away free with the games newsletter (and the codes may still work for them if you can find them online). The main source of new Killers though is the mystery box. A random new killer complete with their own special kill animation and there is no buying coins for real money. The game itself has plenty of content for you to earn the coins through even once you've finished the man films. There's the deleted scenes levels and then the NC-17 cut scenes and on top of all that the "faces of the killed" movie which acts as a compilation of the kill sequence mini games and can help you earn coins.
It's a good lootbox because it doesn't allow you to spend real money on it and it's still just cosmetic in essence that you unlock with it plus it's attached to a really good game. One that's just added a whole new set of levels for free because it was Friday the 13th last week.
The 2nd game of the two I want to highlight
Ok so let's get this out the way. Warframe has a lot of options to pay for stuff but it's a huge free t play game that's got pretty high production values and has been getting lots of updates. Also while technically not lootboxes, it has a mechanic that is essentially lootboxes.
Void Relics are dropped in mission (especially certain mission types making it easy to farm them); you can buy a pack of them on the marketplace for 50 platinum (about $3) for 3 or you can buy them from Syndicates in game for standing points. Or you can even trade with other players to acquire them. They're so easy to acquire in the time it takes me to get 1 lootbox from levelling up in Overwatch I can get 3-5 void relics in Warframe just from doing normal missions. If I focussed on just missions that drop void relics easily I could manage far more.
Then you have to do a full other mission called a void fissure mission and fight through void rRifts to collect 10 reactant. Then finish the mission itself to get a reward. Here's one such mission I went and did.
Most void fissure missions are done in groups of 4 players and when you reach the end all the relics will be open and what they contained shown on screen. Here you can select which prize you want. All 4 players can pick the same prize and all 4 of them will get a copy of that item (as long as all 4 had a void relic equipped).
In addition to all this you can obtain void traces which you can apply to void relics to increase the probability of getting some of the rarer items . Also worth noting is that Void Relics aren't just a generic "here's a Void Relic" thing, they have defined types and defined kinds of relic in each type with each type having a list of what items that type will contain. Each type has 6 possible items it could contain: 3 common; 2 uncommon and 1 rare. Having a list of what each type could contain also helps make it easier to track down the items and drops you specifically want or make it easier to know which specific relics are worth using your void traces to refine.
Oh and on top of all that the contents can be sold in game for credits, or for Ducats (a special trader currency) or you can trade said items for items you want or for platinum with other players.
Warframe deserve mentioning for it's good lootboxes because while you can buy them for real money, it's a free to play game and you get them quite regularly as mission drops. You can also get them from syndicates without paying real money for them. You can also trade to get them if you wish. Add to that you can improve the probability of getting what you want. Add to that you go in with 3 other people and you all get to choose and have the prize you want from them even allowing everyone to have a copy of a rare item if some-one pulls one. On top of all that you can sell them for credits or trade them with other players for items or platinum. Oh and because you're doing missions for the lootboxes and to open them you also get rewards from the missions such as resources (credits, crafting items, power ups) or in some cases more relics. Also opening the relics isn't the sole progression in the game as you can go into void fissure missions and level up your weapons and warframe too.
This should speak volumes about the state of the present games industry when a Free to Play game is actually doing lootboxes in a better more fair way than AAA games are starting to do. Warframe rewards players more and tries to give them the best chance of getting rare items it can by letting players adjust the chances of getting the items they want using special resources used just for this purpose and on top of that sending them in with 3 other people and letting them all have copies of other players rewards instead of their own. Even then if all that doesn't work the items can be traded and sold.
AAA companies need to look at these two games I've mentioned here. Look at what they've done and learn from it otherwise AAA Publishers might find themselves being replaced and overtaken. They might find their audiences abandoning them and the question is can they really make up a 40% or more drop in sales of their game , let alone DLC on top, just off lootboxes?
The time is coming when AAA publishers will have to either learn to stop trying to exploit consumers or face governments starting to step in to act against lootboxes.