Blizzard will be removing loot boxes from its MOBA Heroes of the Storm.
The change is currently being tested on the game's PTR (public test realm) with a view to being fully implemented in the game's next patch. Gems, Heroes of the Storm's real-world currency exchange, will no longer be used for buying loot boxes. Instead, players can purchase them with Gold, which can't be bought using real cash. In addition, "Rare" loot boxes, which guarantee an item of Rare quality or above, will be purchasable with Gold (but not with Gems, of course).
This is actually something of a revert for Heroes of the Storm. Once upon a time, Heroes of the Storm had a simple system which allowed players to purchase hero skins and other cosmetics with real-world money in the form of Gems. Eventually, Blizzard revamped the system and introduced loot boxes, which added an element of randomness and removed the ability for players to purchase many of the skins they wanted directly.
This news comes amid an ongoing controversy surrounding the inclusion of loot boxes in gaming. In November last year, the Federal Trade Commission announced its intention to investigate loot boxes, with links being drawn to gambling. An Australian report commissioned around the same time recommended a "comprehensive review" of loot boxes, and review aggregator OpenCritic has started flagging games containing loot boxes. That's not to mention the outcry around games like Star Wars Battlefront II and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War.
Blizzard's decision to remove real-world money payments for loot boxes from Heroes of the Storm isn't the only thing in the new patch, of course. The company is also introducing the Caldeum Complex event, which will add a list of new missions for players to complete and extra loot to obtain. There are also a number of quality-of-life improvements and framework updates. If you want to check out the full patch notes, you can do so here. Blizzard says the changes will be rolled out "soon" and will be available for public playtesting until the week of March 25th.
How do you feel about Blizzard removing loot boxes of the paid variety from Heroes of the Storm? Let us know in the comments below!