The CEO of Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, has urged the video games industry to scrap loot boxes.
Loot boxes allow players to spend real money on a box of content such as characters, cosmetic items, or equipment. However, the content inside a loot box cannot be seen until after being purchased, so there’s no guarantee you will receive something good or valuable.
In a keynote speech at this week’s DICE Summit in LAs Vegas, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney criticised loot boxes and other pay-to-win mechanics where players buy in-game upgrades for an advantage, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Sweeney told the crowd: “We have to ask ourselves, as an industry, what we want to be when we grow up. Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines… or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust? I think we will see more and more publishers move away from loot boxes.
“We should be very reticent of creating an experience where the outcome can be influenced by spending money. Loot boxes play on all the mechanics of gambling except for the ability to get more money out in the end.”
Fortnite is arguably the biggest game around right now, having thousands of players and regularly teaming up with big-name brands such as Disney for cross-events. The game itself includes microtransactions but, despite being a free-to-play game, does not have loot box mechanics.
Also in the talk, Sweeney praised cross-play (The ability for gamers to play with our players regardless of the console they’re using) and shared hopes that there will be more cross-play games in the future. He stated that it’s good for business and is a step forward for the gaming industry.
“What we all really want and need to accept is equal access to all customers and give up our attempts to create our own private wall guard or private monopoly. In Fortnite, the player who spends with friends plays for twice as long and spends more money. Cross-platform is the future and we all have to do our part.”
Loot Boxes And Gambling
Over the last few years, there’s been a rising number of people voicing their concern over the game mechanic, with many people urging governments and the gaming industry to remove them from games.
EA faced backlash with its Star Wars: Battlefront II which featured loot boxes. Pre-launch, the game included loot boxes which affected gameplay but after fans voiced their frustration, the loot boxes and microtransactions were removed. The microtransactions were later added to the game again.
Loot boxes were banned in Belgium back in 2018, forcing video game companies to remove them from their games in the country. Then, in 2019, the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee issued a report that criticised loot boxes.
The committee urged the UK government to ban the mechanics from games after hearing how hundreds of young gamers in the UK had built thousands of pounds of debt through in-game spending.
Image credit: Jeshoots.com for Unsplash
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