So what is all the buzz about loot boxes about? Why is there such a divide between gamers and developers over the usage or spread of loot boxes/crates? I believe before we nail down the problem, we first need to understand what are these loot crates that gamers are harping about and what they do.
What are these damn loot boxes?
Loot boxes are technically randomly generated in-game items that are bought by players using real-life currency transactions.
Why are gamers all against loot crates, and why are developers so enthusiastic about the crates?
Gamer's come in two modern factions now, one leaning towards how loot crates are diluting the quality of games by adding on bonuses which makes richer players reap the benefits while leaving the rest in the dust, and we have one side that says loot crates are just a fast cash grab by many big game developers. On the other side of this issue, are the developers who use loot boxes as a way to cover or break even and create a more consistent flow of cash to their pockets.
So why should I care?
It depends on which side you are on. If you feel that you want that totally rare skin or that "oh my gawd" amazing rare limited edition hero which is probably going to get nerfed within a month, then I would say, go for it. That's how the market works, it's the consumers choice at the end of the day. However, should you feel that these loot crates are providing an unfair advantage to the game you are playing then it will affect your overall game quality as free to play players are often left to fend for themselves.
Are loot crates gambling?
That depends on what value the loot crate has on the secondary market. If said items from the loot crates can be resold or traded for value, then it is an indirect form of gambling. But thus far, loot crates has always been a form of aesthetic rather than a monetary value. However, by not being able to buy the item you want specifically also constitutes gambling in some form or another and since the algorithm is set by the game developers, just like a casino, the odds are always going to favour the house.
At the end of the day, loot boxes float around a grey area that has yet to be enforced. Many games developers are jumping on this bandwagon only because it provides an additional means of monetary support in terms of gaining back value but that value does not always translate to the same value gamers want. Try as we might, I believe that loot boxes are probably going to be more common as newer games are released, and we should no longer be surprised at the addition of loot crates anymore.