As the wave of gamer distaste for loot boxes reaches new heights with the release of Forza Motorsport 7 and Shadow of War, game aggregation service, OpenCritic, has announced that it's taking a stand against the practice. It's now investigating ways in which it can highlight some of the less savoury business practices of various game developers.
We're going to take a stand against loot boxes. We're looking into ways to add business model information to OpenCritic.
— OpenCritic (@Open_Critic) October 9, 2017
It followed up the announcement tweet by asking the community how they wanted it to highlight games which use loot boxes and similar gambling mechanics to suck in players to spending more money. Some of its current ideas were to add a "random" tag to titles, suggesting that not all of the content is unlockable directly. It is also looking to highlight when games prompt you in-game to pay for something, breaking the immersion of the experience.
It will also look to make it more obvious to gamers when loot box mechanics are exclusively earned in-game through progression, or if they can be unlocked via real-money. It is considering whether to add time-to-completion for paying and non-paying customers too.
This news comes after many recent high-profile game releases faced scandals over loot box mechanics. Beyond Forza Motorsport 7 and Shadow of War's disastrously implemented loot boxes, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds released a loot box mechanic despite being in early access. While its proceeds go to charity, it rubbed gamers the wrong way.
Overwatch has one too and unlocking them is arguably the purpose of playing the game. While fun in its own right, level ups and progression are tied to loot boxes. Or you can pay for them, of course.
Star Wars Battlefront II isn't even out and we know it has loot boxes. Lawbreakers has loot boxes... it seems that every new, big game needs to come with some measure of randomized rewards to encourage you to keep playing. Not because it's fun, but because you need that fix of extra content.
It's shameful and hopefully, OpenCritic's attack on the practice will help solve it.