Loot boxes are a potent trend in modern game design, translating powerful mechanisms of motivation and operant conditioning into a startlingly effective form of micro-transaction. Indeed, loot boxes are so efficient at monetizing player attention that they are increasingly casting off their free-to-play roots and taking up residence in the largest AAA titles. Is the rising tide of loot boxes a net negative for consumers, or is it possible for designers to pull the trend in more player-friendly directions? On Episode 36 of Vertical Slice we’re cracking into this tricky question, and searching for the healthy design principles that can help make loot box systems fun and fair.
- Correction: During the episode we mistakenly identified Strauss Zelnick as the CEO of 2K Games. Zelnick is in fact the CEO of 2K Games’ parent company, Take-Two Interactive. The Polygon article referenced in the discussion of Zelnick can be found here.
- Kotaku offers a useful primer on the ways in which loot boxes underlying principles make them a high-risk domain for exploitative monetization practices.
- EA is struggling to contain a tsunami of negative reaction over Star Wars Battlefront II’s controversial loot box system, and an in-game economy that seems overwhelmingly tilted towards forcing players to purchase them.
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