Screw You, Overwatch Loot Boxes

Nothing beats getting that one legendary Overwatch skin you've been eyeing for days. Most of the time, though? God do loot box drops suck. Source: Arkentass

Blizzard are a devilish bunch. I can only imagine how long was spent on designing the loot box, its animation and what it sounds like when you expand one. Just the act of opening a box feels good: A loot box unlatches, depressurises and then bam! Everything flies into the air, and hits the ground with a good thud. It's like a high-tech version of a Kinder egg.

You know what the first thing I did after opening my first loot box was? I bought five more. Then later that night I bought another five. Then I felt the shame sinking in and I told myself I needed a shred of dignity. I lasted maybe a day or two before I bought another $US5 ($7) worth of boxes. At current, I've spent $US20 ($27) dollars total on loot boxes, and given the slow pace at which you level up after hitting level 20, it's been an ongoing struggle not to drop more money on some god damn loot boxes. Blizzard has my number, and I'm too weak to be like "new phone who dis?"

I don't know what's wrong with me. I should have never even looked at the microtransactions page, not after Hearthstone. That's another Blizzard game where opening a pack is designed to feel oh-so-gratifying; I recall buying some packs just to look at this:

Source: Stok3d

I didn't even really care what was in them, because I wasn't super into Heartsone in the first place! This entire thing feels like madness.

The best part about all of this, though? Ninety-nine per cent of what I get when I open an Overwatch loot box is awful. Who actually wants a voice line of Hanzo going "Hmm"? Does anyone even use voice lines? I swear, in the dozens of hours I've played this game, I've never once heard anyone use a custom voice line during battle.

And how many effin' times is a loot box going to award me a duplicate of this Toa skin? Nobody wants this Roadhog skin — the Mako is so much cooler — and yet Overwatch won't stop taunting me with Toa over and over again:

Source: Forbes.com

It just feels like much of what a loot box can contain is underwhelming: I don't like most of the player icons, or the sprays. Then again, the boxes can't just give you exactly what you want all the time, right? There would be no point; you'd stop caring about loot box drops. Rare drops are rare for a reason — after all the bad drops, you'll feel ecstatic when you finally get, say, firefighter Mei.

At least, that's what I'll tell myself. I've seen friends open a loot box for the first time, only to get some multiple good legendary skins in one go. This video by Taceo nails the feeling well:

Damn you, Overwatch loot boxes. You're the best and the worst, all at once.


Comments

    Guilty, bought a pack of 24.
    Got Thunderbird for pharah, iron giant for bastion, synthetic or whatever it's called for symmetra.

    She is so wrong about that roadhog skin.

    And this is why micro transactions should become a staple for all future fully priced games.

      Not sure if sarcasm, but I actually totally agree. I hate the idea in principle (mostly because it's gambling without any oversight), but man, if they can make this much money off stuff that has no bearing on the actual game, then it's more likely that we get actual gameplay content for free (I'm aware this is the case with Overwatch, talking generally about other games).

      Imagine if Evolve had have done this instead! Maybe people would have played it.

        Sorry descent but it was sarcasm =P I appreciate the concept behind loot boxes but Blizz have really over-done it with Overwatch. After a certain level unless you play the game 8 hours a day you just aren't going to get access to that many loot boxes.

        ME-3 online multiplayer had a really nice balance, where you could get chests for playing 2-3 games or if you wanted you could just pay for bulk. I think this is over capitalization and sadly will set precedence not just for online AAA games but offline ones as well. At which point I'm sure all the same people paying for the loot boxes now will be up in arms.

          Yeah, completely agree. ME3 you could get a top-tier chest by playing a couple of games on Gold difficulty or maybe 3 on Silver. I guess those games went for about twice as long as an Overwatch game though.

            And somehow I found them considerably less exhausting than playing Overwatch matches... There's something draining about queuing 3-4 times and getting a team where everyone wants to play Widow/Genji/Hanzo/Pharah/McCree.

          Sure, but in ME3 you needed those chests to actually unlock gameplay content. Platinum missions couldn't really be done without consumables which actually made it closer to freemium games. You also had to actually pay to unlock (some) further DLC.

          I guess we'll just agree to disagree here. I'm perfectly OK with cosmetic stuff being doled out in this way and everything that actually matters for playing the game being included in the initial cost. In fact, the only reason I purchased this game was that they promised all heroes and maps would be free.

          " After a certain level unless you play the game 8 hours a day you just aren't going to get access to that many loot boxes."

          Is this right? I thought the xp per level capped at 23 and then resets when you go prestige anyway.

            It caps at 22,000 per level after about level 23 or so, but that means that you need to get from 23 to 100 before it resets. considering you get maybe 1,500 to 2,500 or so depending on the length of the game, whether you win or lose etc, with a 1,500 bonus per day for your first win, it will take you around 8-10 matches per level. Those matches would be anywhere from about 5-15 minutes long. I'd estimate about 1.5 hours per level on average. So to get to level 100 you'll need to play for around 100+ hours after you hit level 23.

              Per second played: 4.01 XP
              Match Finished: 250 XP
              First win of the day: 1500 XP
              Match Win: 500 XP
              Playing in a Group: +20% XP
              Consecutive match bonus: 200 XP

              Looking only at xp per second it takes 115 hours to get from 23 to 100. if in a group then it's 92. That's before you factor in anything else at all.

              One thing I forgot as well. You got basically nothing for your time invested for ME3 if you failed the mission. Since all the gold missions had cheap ass instant killing enemies except for Geth, Geth basically became the only one worth doing. I hated that feeling that you were wasting your time if you played anything other than gold Geth, because you actually needed to unlock chests to get more enjoyment out of the game. ME3 also didn't have a way to direct purchase as far as I recall, so you may never get the thing you wanted.

              Each to their own I guess, but I'll say again that I'd much rather have to wait some hours of gameplay before buying my meka Phara skin than having to wait before being able to actually play Phara.

                Yeah, that bugged me as well about ME3. I was waiting for a Krogan Battlemaster for the loooongest time. I only got one years later after I did another playthrough (and MP).

    At level 42, I have Mei's Yeti Hunter, Bastion's Antique and Soldier 76's Commando 76 skins. The only one I play of those is Mei. I did get enough currency to buy Pharah's Mechaqueen skin. Ironically, I like most of the epic skins more than a significant amount of the legendary skins, Like Bastion's Omnic Crisis, Torbjorn's Woodclad and D.Va's Carbon Fiber skins.

    The fact that you can't buy the coins or whatever currency to use in the shop is downright evil on Blizzard's part. I'd be far more willing to purchase some coins to buy the specific thing that I want rather than dumping money into an entirely random process. If I wanted to spend money for random stuff with bugger all chance of getting what I want, I'd go and play pokies.

      Can't you then cash in those items you don't want (or at least the duplicates) to then get that currency?

        I'm not sure if you can cash in items when you only have one. Cashing in duplicates works well but considering how many little cosmetic things you can get, I can't imagine that getting a duplicate is common.

        You only cash in duplicates, and only for a tiny fraction of the price of the skin. You get 5 credits for a common duplicate, for example, when a legendary skin costs 1000 credits and an epic costs 250 credits.

          I think the cash in rate is around 20% of the underlying value of the duplicate. I.e. a spray is 25 coins and you get 5 coins back if its a duplicate. Which is insane. Also the ridiculous number of sprays per character just acts as filler for the loot boxes.

          And if you get a duplicate Legendary - like I did when I only had 2 Legendaries total! - you only get 200 credits for it.

        Duplicates are automatically cashed in, but for a fraction of what the item costs normally.

        Cashing in unwanted items is a much requested feature, though, so will be interesting to see if Blizzard implement this.

    I love Blizzard but the loot system in this is total garbage.

    I've leveled up to 62 so far without spending any money on loot boxes due to pure stubbornness, I still haven't really had any decent drops for characters I use. Had a couple of good Reinhardt skins and doubled up on one of Lucio's (Which I don't use because it looks silly), and that's seriously it, colour me pretty disappointed, my patience hasn't really paid off at all :(

    So I can see why others do get impatient and throw money on it, but personally I would kick myself if I bought some in the hopes that my luck will finally turn around, Honestly you're better off just playing the game and keeping your money.

    Just gonna leave this here...

    Gamblers help line - 1800858858

    I have a friend who has somewhat of an addictive personality. At one stage he had lost nearly all his friends, his wife, his car and almost his job from gambling. He had himself banned from the local casino, which helped somewhat. Anyway he took up the "healthier habit" of PC gaming. he is now pretty much addicted to all kinds of mp games. He has probably spend thousands of dollars in hearthstone, and already racked up quite a bill with Overwatch. These games use the same psychological technique to separate people from their money. And he can't help himself. At least at the casino he would come home with something of actual value on occasion.
    He is being exploited by Blizzard, because of his condition, and I believe that that is unethical. But let's be honest, when shareholder value is at stake, ethics are not ones top priority.
    it makes me sick that corporations are using psychological tricks to get a larger share of people money, it is something I strongly disagree with.

    Last edited 10/06/16 1:34 pm

      Shit.

      There's gambling warnings on Mario games these days, which to me seems ludicrous (but apparently necessary).

    It's almost schadenfreude for me but then I realise people getting sucked in just proves that it works which means we'll see more of it. I personally find gambling in games for real money particularly squicky and I wonder how long before it attracts regulation. It certainly looks and sounds like a duck.

    The very least would be giving players what they want for the cash and being done with it. Anything else including vast amounts of garbage loot is disingenuous imo.

      spot on, I think it should be regulated just like gambling. Look at games like candy crush - they make millions of dollars a day from micro-transactions. they use algorithms to work out exactly what makes people pay money, and a lot of people cant help themselves. its like selling crack to a crack head - he cant help himself, its basically involuntary. (but people are buying it so that must mean they like it!)
      they don't look at people who spend a ton on micro-transactions as great bloke who really loves their game, they see them as cashed up chumps who they can milk dry. it doesn't stop when you get that skin you want either - inevitably you turn your eye to another one.

      Another think you mentioned is how you have no say in what you get for your money. they use an algorithm to stretch out the space between decent rewards just enough to keep you spending.
      Overwatch was $70 for what you have to admit is a game pretty light on content (but is super polished) and they include iap's that start at $3. It really taints the game for me, I really enjoy it, but I cant help getting this feeling that they will never be satisfied until they have squeezed every cent out of me that they can get away with.

    Sorry to hear about your friend and his issues with addiction. But Blizzard are not being unethical or exploitative by having a mechanic like this in their game. It's easy to blame them, but you're looking at it wrong.

      I disagree. If this were true then why wouldn't they just have a currency system where you get money for levels and spend this money as you see fit on different items? The whole point in the loot box system is that it is actually gambling. You invest time or money for a chance to get something you want, rather than a straight transaction. Even the way the box opens is deliberate in creating that feeling of excitement.

      I don't really blame Blizzard though, pretty much everyone is doing this now and it's something that government regulation probably needs to catch up with at some stage.

        It's like Capsule Toys or Kinder Surprise. The only difference is that it's not physical so there no need to put up a front that something is 'rare' and worth getting excited about.

      I understand that they are only doing what makes them the most money. they have worked hard and should get paid, but where do you draw the line? I know people like my friends are keeping these games online, but that just makes me feel worse... i have spent a few dollars in hearthstone etc, and when I didn't get what i was after in my pack, i didn't only feel disappointed, but kind of dirty too, a bit ashamed that I had wasted money on basically nothing, and it kept prompting me to buy more. If they were doing it for the right reasons, they would increase the rate of loot box drops and drop the price of the boxes to $1 or something like that.

      Anyway i am getting sidetracked, what view do you take on this? i am interested to hear it from someone else's view, because i feel like I must be missing something, i cant see how this sort of thing is no big deal...

    ... Loot boxes are no incentive to me. I'm not a lab rat getting random hits of cola after drinking water and then jones-ing for cola hardcore.

    The game has decent controls and is thoroughly entertaining so i'll play for a while.

    Just the act of opening a box feels good: A loot box unlatches, depressurises and then bam! Everything flies into the air, and hits the ground with a good thud. It’s like a high-tech version of a Kinder egg.I disagree. The whole process is incredibly annoying and unnecessarily long. My main times that I'm opening boxes are between matches and as I'm quitting the game. Having to first hold a button for 3 to 4 seconds and then sit through the same 10 -15 seconds of animation each time I open a box is really annoying. Just open the box with a short, sharp animation and tell me what I got. It's the high tech version of opening your mail with a Rube-Goldberg machine.

    At least you only got 1 duplicate from the box in the opening GIF!

    I had two boxes in a row where all 4 items were duplicates and 1 of those was a purple.

    And then there's the duplicate Legendary I got despite only having 2 Legendaries total at the time.

    RNGesus hates me sometimes, I swear!

    It's not gambling, coz gambling you get nothing, its more like one of those dispensers for random kids toys.

    During the Summer Games event I was playing the game constantly, just so I could get more damn loot boxes so I could get the blue athletic Tracer skin. And I don't even play Tracer. I dropped money when it came to the end of the event and while I got some other legendary skins I *still* didn't get the Tracer skin I was after.

    I was about to drop some more money on loot boxes in order to get that skin when I thought, hey, wait self, this is stupid and the game is being very exploitative. And I've barely played it since.

    GG Blizzard!

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