I hate loot boxes, but there's no denying that they work. I can't count the number of times I've played two or three more Overwatch matches than I was planning to because I was so close to the chance to click on another crate full of confetti and disappointment.
China just passed a law that might ease our collective loot-box-induced suffering a little bit. Starting in May 2017, developers will be required to disclose the probabilities underlying infernal mystery cubes in games like Overwatch, Counter-Strike and Hearthstone. Here are the stipulations (as translated by NeoGAF user chillybright):
2.6 ...Online game publishers shall promptly publicly announce information about the name, property, content, quantity, and draw/forge probability of all virtual items and services that can be drawn/forge on the official website or a dedicated draw probability webpage of the game. The information on draw probability shall be true and effective.
2.7 Online game publishers shall publicly announce the random draw results by customers on notable places of official website or in game, and keep record for government inquiry. The record must be kept for more than 90 days. When publishing the random draw results, some measures should be taken place to protect user privacy.
Now, these disclosures will only be required in China, but they could ripple out into the broader game-o-sphere. For instance, it's one thing to feel like loot box probabilities in games like Overwatch are total bullshit, but it's another thing to see it on a page. This sort of thing might convince developers to improve the chances that a decent reward will pop out — if only slightly.
Of course, they might just make China-exclusive changes and keep things as is in the West. I suppose we'll see. If nothing else, it's good to know probabilities when you're essentially gambling time and (in-game) money. Anyway, I've gotta get back to Overwatch. This mountain of useless, compulsively obtained sprays, profile pics and voice lines won't build itself.