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Debatoid: Are loot boxes a blight on gaming?

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This whole court's out of order!

Welcome to Debatoid! If you weren’t around six years ago, Debatoid is an internet debate between two lovely community members. A topic is chosen and the two gentleman/gentleladies will argue either for or against said topic. I will flip a coin to see who takes which side and then the debaters do their thing! The guests are encouraged to use personal experience, facts, and opinions to sway the community to their side. Just no name calling, ya filthy animals. This is a classy affair.

After the debate is up for everyone to read, it is up to YOU to decide who argued their case the best. I will try voting in the comments on this first run-through. Details will be posted below the debate. I will then take the votes and declare the winner on an update blog on Friday. I also encourage everyone to leave a comment on their stance along with their vote. I will choose a small handful of them to be featured on the results blog. Even if you didn’t participate, be sure to check back on Friday to see what the new topic will be for the next Debatoid. If you want to take part in that Debatoid, I will post an email on the results blog for everyone to contact. If you are chosen, just be aware that you have a 50/50 chance of arguing for or against the subject.

Without further ado, let’s get on to this week’s subject!

Leveling up and earning gear for your character has always been a rewarding process. Whether it is that you finally unlocked that rifle you have had your eyes on for the past several levels or a rare costume that will make you stick out, everyone loves unlocks. Items used to be locked off depending on what level you reached or goal you fulfilled. Recently, that method has seemed to become obsolete as the loot box has grown in popularity. These packages come in various shapes or forms whether they are a box, crate, or card pack. Every one of these unlocks items for you randomly. You never know what you will receive when you open one of the loot boxes. You could get the best outcome with multiple legendaries for the character that you used the most. The worst-case scenario usually comes down to getting duplicates for every item. Again. Loot boxes certainly have their ups and downs. Is it worth gambling for the chance of getting that long-wanted item faster at the risk of possibly never getting it? Well, let's get to the debate!

Proposition: Are loot boxes a blight on games?

Occams: Argues for Loot Boxes

Remember Christmas morning as a kid? You run downstairs to see what Santa left under the tree for you. Sometimes you knew, sometimes it was a surprise. And in that surprise, time stood still and we were singularly connected to the moment leading to profound joy or crushing despair. Tearing off wrapping paper like wet bandages to reveal a gift inside. That’s loot boxes. A micro-Christmas morning each and every time. I love it and so should you.

Now some folks will argue that loot boxes in gaming are unnecessary and add to an already pervasive culture in gaming where microtransactions have become the norm. Well, to those folks I say, yup. They are right in a sense. Loot boxes are unnecessary. So are video games, really. Yet they are here and more importantly, they are here to stay. And unlike many types of microtransactions, they can be earned in-game and have no bearing your ability to win or lose.

Take Overwatch, for example. All the loot boxes unlock superficial stuff like sprays, skins, victory poses, etc. They are fun to look at and outfit your character but the end of the day, whether or not you win or lose all comes down to your ability. It is fun playing as Junkrat with the Junkenstein skin but it's my nearly precognitive ability to place grenades where the opposing team will be that allows me to win over 90% of my matches. Obviously, the other 10% is due to disconnects and my team being a bunch of idiots who would rather chase down a pesky Mercy or Mei than stick to the objectives. This is why teen pregnancy is such an issue. No self-control (and a severely weak pull-out game.)

People want to focus on games with loot boxes saying that they are the "point" of the game. Well, they're wrong. The point of the game is to get better at that game. If you need to unlock something for progressing then you have been trained and conditioned by years of gaming. You should take pride in your progress, not things. You need to unlock new characters, I say no thank you. Having all of the characters playable immediately is awesome. This gives you a chance to try everyone out rather than putting them behind some arbitrary wall.

I have seen the argument that it's gross or lame to have a game that already costs $60 include options to further purchase loot boxes. Well, that's a terrible argument, first off. How is that gross? Mail-order brides are gross. Socks and sandals are lame. Don't ascribe a misnomer like that to something that is harmless. We are mostly grown-ups here. We can take ownership of our choices. For example, during the Halloween event, I bought $10 in loot boxes for Overwatch. I know, I know, I'm part of the problem. Which, really…that means nothing.

Want to know why I spent $10? Here's my perspective. Halloween events are hands down my favorite. It is my favorite holiday and I adore the skins. Now that alone captures my interest, but why did I decide to spend money? I already paid $60. Why would I choose to pay more? Because of appreciation.

Overwatch is a multiplayer team-based first-person shooter. On paper, that is anathema to the type of gamer I am. For me to have spent dozens upon dozens of hours playing this game and loving that experience, it's a very special thing. So when I consider that and the amount of crafting and polish that has gone into the characters and the levels and presentation, I'm glad to choose to give them $10. I am glad to support Blizzard continuing to make Overwatch the best game it can be. On top of that, this helps them to keep actually shitty microtransactions out of the game like levels or new characters. And for that $10, I get even more opportunities to unlock my beloved Halloween skins.

Loot boxes are fun, unnecessary, and awesome. We as gamers make a choice whether or not to purchase them and they have zero impact on your ability to win or lose a match. They aren't the point of a game and serve only to add to the visual palette presented to you. Seeing that you finally got that rare skin you've wanted for so long is a moment of joy for sure, but it's not why you went out and bought the game. And I'd rather be able to choose to pay for cosmetic items than being forced to purchase levels and skins as DLC. Love them or hate them, microtransactions in the vein or loot boxes are a benign thing. This isn't the pay-to-win insidiousness that is so prevalent in a lot of mobile games. This is fun. Unnecessary fun and that's awesome. So go ahead and experience tranquility.

SuperMonk4Ever: Argues against Loot Boxes

Have you ever experienced a strong sense of envy after getting killed? You think to yourself, "Holy shit, what did he have that just killed me and how do I get it?!" You would see the details of your killer's loadout displayed in the kill cam with the name of the gun used to hose you down. After the match, you would look through the armory to see the gun. You see that you aren't far off from obtaining that death-dealing boom stick for yourself. It might take another hour of playing but you know exactly where your goal is. With loot boxes, all of that goes out of the window.

Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIHalo 5, and Gears of War 4 show the ugly side of loot boxes. Each one of these games commits the sin of throwing in more powerful weapons or abilities than what are offered in the standard set of items. Let me go into detail about why these games are the cream of the crop when it comes to shitty loot box ideas.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III seemed to start off harmless enough by giving you keys to unlock crates that worked like the general loot box. Everything was random but it was all cosmetic so it wasn't the worst. However, a few months after launch, the game added specific guns into these crates. These weren't just guns that had different effects or sounds, these gun had completely different stats. There were World War II guns, silent crossbows and shotgun-powered pistols that could be dual wield. It wasn't only a one-time deal either. Treyarch added multiple guns to the loot crates through the life span of the game. You couldn't unlock these guns any other way other than running the dice. It seemed to be so "popular" that Infinity Ward added it to the newest installment, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

Halo 5, on the other hand, stuck to its guns since it released. The game had a system called REQ packs. After playing a game, you would pool up a few credits. After a certain amount of games, you could afford a bronze, silver, or gold REQ pack. These REQ packs fueled your options in a brand new mode called Warzone. For those who don't know, Warzone was a new form of the classic Big Team Battle mode except there were AI-controlled baddies running around as well. The REQ packs unlock the ability to bring in weapons and vehicles in Warzone once you earn enough points from getting kills or completing objectives.

Unlike traditional Halo, however, Warzone doesn't have any weapons or vehicles littered on the map. ALL of your gear comes from these REQ packs. See a Scorpion tank and want to blow it up? You better have unlocked a rocket launcher before the game AND have enough points to use one. Want to bring backup in the form of a flying Banshee? Hopefully, you have some stored up from your RNG REQ packs. Halo, in my eyes, is about starting out on even playing fields. Everyone starts on opposite ends of a symmetrical map so everyone has an equal chance to the power weapons and vehicles. The balance seems to vanish with this new mode and REQ system introduced into Halo 5.

Gears of War 4 does quite a few things wrong in my eyes to end up on this list. The first one has a major impact on the Horde mode. Like the other games mentioned above, you earn credits to open varying gear packs. Each one guarantees different things. They range from cosmetics to special XP boosts called bounties that require you to fulfill a certain task in a versus game. My least favorite is perks that you can unlock for the different classes in Horde mode. Instead of leveling up your class the traditional way, the way you level up is by unlocking those cards from the gear packs. In order to get a perk, you have to first get the card from a pack and then equip the one perk you want when playing that class. If you want to level up that perk, you have to now get TWO of the same card so you can fuse them together and make a level two version of that perk. The higher level that you want, the more cards you need to fuse together to earn that level.

Gears 4 also commits the sin of limited-time content through these packs and no, I am not talking a month. This content stays around for a week, max. Some of the more rare gear appears randomly during the weekend before disappearing on Monday. On top of that, these limited-time packs are usually as much as the most expensive gear pack if not more. So, if you aren't sitting on top of a pile of credits, you better clear your schedule for the weekend to grind for at least these gear crates.

All of these tactics from different games seem to either fight for your time or fight for your money. Without them, you obviously can't have the ideal collection when it's time to play with your friends at the end of the week. I think the best method to hand out loot is through an unlock system that ties the gear through challenges. These would amount to "Get twenty-five kills with the shotgun," which would then unlock a special skin for that gun. With loot boxes, it feels like getting a gift from your long-distant uncle you haven't seen in fifteen years. It's very possible he could give you something you want but it's also possible he could give you something you have no desire for. Like giving you an Apple charger when you have an Android. I think loot boxes need to Die! Die! Die!

Major thanks to Occams for participating in this Debatoid with me!

Now, here is how voting works:

1.) The debaters do not have a chance to vote. It would be a little too obvious who they would vote for.

2.) To vote, please start your comment with:

OCCAMS if you are with loot boxes  

MONK if you are against them.

You can comment freely what you would like after that but your vote will not be counted if you don't follow this method. Make sure the names are in all caps, please. That way, they stand out easily.

3.) You only have one vote. Your first vote will be the one that I count. Please don't pressure others into voting one way or the other. You can have a civil discussion about differing opinions but keep it civil.

4.) You should vote on the strengths of the arguments presented. Though your opinion may go some way towards forming your decision, please try to be as impartial as you can be.

5.) DO NOT VOTE IN COMMENT THREADS! Those things can go on for so long that I didn't realize a vote was buried underneath. Please make a new comment to cast your vote.

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a fever dream of Sean Daisy, Debatoid offers a subject for two sides; two peers give their case against or for the subject and YOU decide the outcome! If you weren't around in 2011, this probab... more + disclosures


 


 



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