As annoying as loot boxes may be, at the very least we can be thankful that this new form of nickel and diming is limited to the world of video games. Of course, there are other shady things in real life that bear great resemblance to loot boxes in that they prey on a certain group of people for monetary gain, but they generally don’t come in the form of a box that spews items of random value at you. It would be interesting to consider what life would be like if loot boxes made the transition to reality though, even if it’s a bit disconcerting, as companies are always trying to find new and creative ways to part you from your money. Hopefully, such a day would never come to fruition, but if it did, you’d better pray that certain places don’t adopt loot box mechanics.
Hospitals and Pharmacies
If you were to seek medical attention, it would be safe to say that you would want the best and most efficient means of treatment possible. After all, no one wants to swallow four pills a day for a month if they could get the same effect from one pill that they only have to take once a week, unless you really like swallowing pills. However, if loot box mechanics were to make their way to the medical field, it would be quite possible that society would literally collapse.
Imagine, if you will, walking into a pharmacy to pick up some cough syrup. Instead of going to a specific aisle and picking up a cough syrup that you know works reasonably well and has a comparatively good taste, you pay for a box that contains various forms of cough syrup, from the one that you like to a super-premium exotic version that guarantees immunity, to coughing effects for years, to a generic one that smells and tastes like feet. They will all cure your current ailment with no strange side effects, but you definitely don’t want to get the one that tastes like feet, so you buy 10 boxes to increase your chances of getting a tolerable cough syrup. Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of 30 feet-based cough syrups, five kinds of cough syrups for dogs, three normal cough syrups, and two legendary coughing cures, except you have to return all the duplicate items to the pharmacy for store credit. Now apply this same mechanic to doctors, medical treatments, and ambulance response times, and you have successfully crippled a country overnight.
Restaurants and Grocery Stores
It’s the little things that make life tolerable, and there is no smaller aspect of life that we take for granted more than the ability to choose what you want to put into your mouth. Sure, you may end up eating something that you don’t like occasionally, but at least you can control whether or not you want to eat that same thing again the next time you have a meal. Randomize any aspect of this freedom, and you can bet that there would be riots in the streets in record time.
If you don’t believe it, you can run a little experiment of your own to simulate the effects of applying loot box mechanics to your meals. Simply create a pie chart with four different tiers of food, with the most common tier consisting entirely of fast food (i.e. McDonalds) or some other undesirable choice and the other tiers being made up of more palatable options. Being a common tier item, the fast food category must make up 70% of the pie chart, with gradually shrinking segments for all the other categories. Have a blindfolded friend throw a dart at the pie chart every time you want to eat lunch, and marvel at how much you will grow to hate fast food over the course of a week. If you want to punish yourself even more, take this pie chart and apply it to food from a specific restaurant or your grocery shopping list.
Even if you are completely adamant that you don’t care about what you wear, you have to admit that such a statement is a bit of a lie: you don’t care about what you wear, as long as it’s comfortable and it fits. Wearing a potato sack might technically make it clothing, but if the sack itches the moment that you put it on, then most people would probably tear if off of them and wear something else. Thus a situation where all the clothing in the world can only be acquired through loot boxes would affect every man, woman, and child, regardless of how little they claim to care about what they wear.
Remember the times when you would get a group project in school and you had one person in your group who did nothing while the rest of the group worked hard to get that A for everyone? Now imagine how you would feel if grades were assigned by luck, but you still had to go to school for whatever reason. “Too bad that you low rolled that D there Billy, but look on the bright side, at least this guy who never showed up to class got lucky and landed the legendary A++ grade. Buy enough grade loot boxes, and you too can get an A++ eventually!” For maximum rage, apply this to your job (if applicable) and replace grades with paychecks.
Anything Transportation Related
Nothing would capture the disappointing feeling of opening a bland loot box more accurately than having to open a loot box to decide how you were going to get somewhere. No one would ever want to take public transportation if they knew that had a chance to get a limo, but that’s just how loot boxes work and if you didn’t want to take a crowded public bus to see a movie, then you should’ve bought more loot boxes. This would be especially bad if you plan on flying somewhere, because then you would have to open a loot box to see where you’re sitting, and then another one to determine what movie and or entertainment options are available to you (if any at all).
Internet Service Providers
The loss of net neutrality, as terrible as it may be, would mean nothing compared to a version of the Internet that is based upon loot box mechanics. The prospect of having to buy multiple subscription packages to minimize the chances of receiving dial-up for a month is a horrifying one, especially now that so many important aspects of our lives revolve around your ability to connect to the Internet. For ISPs, such a shift towards a luck-based business model would be great news, but for everyone else, having to deal with randomly fluctuating and unpredictable Internet speeds would be torturous.
If loot boxes were to invade the real world, at least then certain game companies would hopefully understand the evils that they have unleashed. On the bright side, such a day has not come just yet, but don’t celebrate too soon because companies are always on the lookout for easy ways to make literal boatloads of money with minimum effort.