Star Wars Battlefront 2 | DICE/Motive Studios/Criterion
LOOT BOXES AND MICROTRANSACTIONS AFFECTING REVIEW SCORES?
The game is changing.
by Felipe Parada
When there is a shift in the real world economy it affects all of us on one level. In order to deal with any type of change we take a step back, make all the necessary changes we need, we re-adjust and continue forward. We cant expect a different result when we do the same things over and over again because that's the definition of insanity. So it is understandable when someone calls this new system of microtransactions and loot boxes as "Insane" because we do the same thing over and over again expecting something different. When you add in a traditional progression system on top of it, the whole mechanic becomes very complicated.
I've seen a couple of recently released games now with descent scores but what lingers in the back of my mind is, "Did the loot box/microtransaction mechanic directly affect the review score?" Now I have my own issue with review scores and that's another article for another time but we have to start accepting the fact that the new implementation of monetization is affecting the game in more ways than one. Loot boxes and in-game economies are changing the way we interact with the games we play, for better or for worse. It has come to a point where a game’s economy is as important, or more important than its in-game story and multiplayer component. I personally feel that we have already reached that point.
Lets use an example review of EA’s latest Need for Speed title (As reviewed by Polygon.com):
"Shipments still come every day for logging in, and they include a chunk of in-game cash, a batch of parts tokens (exchanged on a 3:1 basis for a speed card) and a vanity item that can be exchanged for the aforementioned money. It’s not an extravagant bounty but it is a help. Still, Need For Speed Payback’s punishing grind, loot boxes and multiple currencies offers a tacit encouragement to spend money to bypass its automotive chores while holding a fig leaf over the bad PR of a true pay-to-win scenario."
The one thing that stands out is the phrase "a true pay-to-win scenario", which in this case is never a good thing. You spend more time trying to figure out how long it will take you to unlock a specific car and/or hero rather than enjoying the game. Instead of getting excited for a review of a highly anticipated game you are bombarded with comments about loot boxes and microtranactions because lets face it, that’s all people seem to care about right now. It's also not the reviewers fault for making long winded comments about the loot boxes and in-game economies, they are just trying to do their job and give us a non-bias review of a game. Oh and another thing, its not cool to send anyone death threats because you didn't like his/her review of a game you really wanted, not cool at all.
We can expect this topic to become more and more prevalent in the upcoming years and we can expect to hear the term gambling-based economy thrown around a lot. Just how the gaming industry continues to evolve so must the way games are scored. There will always be a something that we will like or dislike about a particular game and this is why reviews will always be important in out gaming culture.
Even if the publishers push harder on loot boxes, we have to realize that it is out of our control. If the loot boxes and in-game economies are impacting the game in such a way that it is not becoming fun anymore, that it is a future none of us want and it has to be reflected in any review score. Welcome to the new age of gaming.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that games need to be reviewed differently? leave us a comment below.