Epic Games, creator of the popular game Fortnite announced they are abandoning blind loot boxes and players will now be able to see inside a loot box before they decide to buy.
Loot boxes have been the center of debate around the world ever since players started comparing the goodie grabs to gambling. While the similarities are striking, loot boxes have fallen into an unregulated media that has had little to no resistance until recently.
Critics argue that loot boxes are similar to many legal online casinos where the players have to put up money before they spin the wheel, roll the dice, or pick a random card.
In 2018, Belgium and the Netherlands both banned the sale of video games that feature loot boxes to anyone under 21 years of age. Their actions have set in motion an investigation into loot boxes and their ties to gambling by several countries around the world. The uproar from aggravated players has gathered the attention of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who is currently conducting their own investigation into the matter. In total, 15 European regulators and the FTC have pledged to investigate the matter.
Fortnite developers currently use loot boxes for the “save the world” mode, but now creators say the loot box llamas will be replaced by x-ray llamas. A spokesman for Epic Games stated that they believe it is important for the Llama’s their players buy have what they want. Players can also earn rewards by logging in and playing the game.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 was the game that initially brought a lot of attention to loot boxes and sparked a backlash from players around the world based on how Star Wars integrated the service. EA Sports is the creator of Star Wars, FIFA, Madden, and other games that use the platform to generate additional income after the game has been bought.
According to Digital Trends, EA Sports generates about $800 million in net revenue from in-app purchases from their FIFA game series. FIFA is one of the more popular sports games in the world, and the additional revenue earned from in-game purchases confirms it. While EA Sports eventually broke and folded on loot boxes for Star Wars Battlefront 2, it is not likely anything will change to their other games such as FIFA unless federal regulators deem loot boxes gambling and require age restrictions to purchase such products.
Fortnite is unique in the fact that the game is free to download and available on almost any platform. PCGamer states that Fortnite now has over 200 million registered users making it one of the most popular games of all time.
While legal online gambling is allowed in the USA and many other countries around the world, unregulated gambling is often not. Loot boxes are still a relatively new source of revenue for gaming developers and with the financial gains that developers have seen over the past few years, it is unlikely they will go away anytime soon.