The gaming review aggregate site OpenCritic has started to flag video games that contain loot boxes. The site says they are tagging games to give consumers a fair warning about games which contain the practise which critics call anti-consumer and compare to gambling.
Loot boxes have been under increasing scrutiny after the past few years since late 2017 when games such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War came under fire for their use of the practice. Since then several government bodies have been investigating the use of loot boxes in video games, including the Belgium Gaming Commission and the Netherlands Gaming Authority.
OpenCritic is the latest major website to come out in opposition of loot box mechanics and their inclusion in video games. OpenCritic themselves cited the Belgium Gaming Commission and Netherlands Gaming Authority’s investigations as the reason why the flagging has started to happen. In a statement announcing the new addition, they said:
“The OpenCritic team believes that loot boxes are a net-negative for the video game industry. Loot boxes prey on human’s generally poor ability to accurately understand and internalize probabilities, especially at the extremes. Rather than offer in-game items directly, loot boxes are used to mask the underlying cost of extremely attractive items.”
They further elaborated that not all randomized mechanics in games were bad, and that monetization was the key differentiation in their opinion.
Most consumers agree that they don’t want Loot Boxes in their games, and it’s great to see a big site like OpenCritic take a definitive stand by warning people of their inclusion in titles. Hopefully, it’ll give more developers and publishers pause for thought before they decide to include such detrimental monetization mechanics into their video games.
What do you think of loot box mechanics in games? Do you think they count as gambling? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.