Unlocking a Chance

Zyngor | Monday, August 11, 2014
I'll simply go out and say it - I'm addicted to lootboxes. These virtual in-game caches of goodies are a staple of most free-to-play titles, and whether the company is charging premium currency for the crate, key, or both, they're an effective strategy that caters to those feeling lucky. There's no better feeling than opening a lootbox to discover a premium item well-worth your investment. Then again, the wheel may land on bankrupt, and you'll be left a dollar short and no candy bar.

That being said, I think the whole lootbox-sphere has come from pretty stringent beginnings to a more welcome hybridized model. Nowadays, the lootboxes themselves are usually available as droppable loot in many titles. Meanwhile, the key is often found as both loot for those with time to grind, or also offered through the in-game premium store. In some, like Neverwinter Online, the key will not drop on landscape, but those with the cash currency (Zen) can purchase a key from the store and sell it on the auction house for the premium earnable currency (Astral Diamonds). This system allows for players of different economic levels the chance to roll the dice and possibly earn a premium item (like a mount, which faster speeds are rare in Neverwinter).

Rift lootbox contents - meh
As for myself, I fall in the category where I mostly play the lootbox game when the opportunity arises or I suddenly feel compelled. Sometimes a lootbox/key will drop via landscape loot, and it's sitting there in the inventory, begging to be opened. Once in a while that same urge will kick in, and if my virtual wallet is stuffed enough, I'll skip on down to the local AH and peruse the selection of boxes/keys.

Speaking of urge, I'm feeling it right now. *live lootbox HYPE* Opens up Rift + LOTRO, purchases the proper goodies...pops open each box. Well, looks like Rift wants me to change my costume. Meanwhile, LOTRO gave me a decent haul - especially a stat tome, which should sell nicely on the AH for a profit at the end of the day.

LOTRO lootbox contents - much better
I think just the notion that I may end up on the plus side of the deal really drives me to opening lootboxes on a regular basis. Sure, I'm likely to lose every now and then, but then I simply remember that this is a virtual good, and all I have really lost is the time spent to accrue that gold. Time I currently have the opportunity to lose, thankfully.

This notion of virtual lootboxes has even emerged from the monitor, in the form of Loot Crate. This service allows the customer to sign up for a 1/3/6-month plan, and receive a monthly package in the snail mail. This "crate" will contain an assortment of geeky & gamer-inspired goods, based around a theme (ex: June theme was "Transform," and contained mostly Transformer franchise items). It's an interesting idea, and certainly inspires many "Loot Crate opening" videos posted online.

While I do enjoy opening lootboxes, I do understand that many could care less, and consider the box as junk. I tend to prefer systems that don't try and shove "YOU GOT A LOOTBOX - GREAT! NOW HEAD TO THE STORE AND BUY A KEY FOR ONLY 199 CREDITS!" tactics down our throats. As long as they remain fairly unobtrusive, I see no issue with allowing the ability to purchase keys from the store (especially if they also make it attainable in game, in some form). If it supports the company in such way to allow future game content developed, more power to them.

How do you play the lootbox game? Share below!

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