It’s one small step for League of Legends, one giant leap for gamerkind: Riot Games is now revealing the precise drop rates of their loot boxes.
Sorry, that should be Hextech Chests. Ever since they were introduced to the industry, loot boxes have been controversial, but just now? They’re nothing short of a dirty word. That whole horrible debacle with Star Wars Battlefront 2 and its pay-to-win shenanigans soured so many gamers on the whole thing.
This wasn’t an isolated incident by any means, but it’s a sign of just how problematic loot boxes and microtransactions have become. It’s easy to lump them in with season passes and such, which are often advertised before a game is even available for pre-order yet. Then there’s the oh-so-hated on-disk DLC; developers and publishers actively locking players out of already-finished parts of the game to sell them to us at a later date.
In short, like just about anyone and everyone else these days, the gaming industry just wants our money. Wants to roll in it like Scrooge McDuck. The winds of change are a-blowing, though, and loot boxes are starting to be rightly regulated.
Earlier today, Riot Games published an in-depth ‘Hextech Crafting Guide’ that explains exactly what box-buyers will be getting themselves into. In their handy-dandy chart, you can see the seven different types of content available in a Hextech Chest (Skin Shards or Champion Shards, say), and the percentage of openings that result in a drop of that type.
Further, Riot lay down a system they call bad luck protection. This means that you can’t open three chests in a row without getting at least one Skin Shard. You can also, eventually, earn them through play. It’s about making the gambling aspect of it all a little more palatable.
It’s more than just uppity gamers whining at nobody in particular on online forums. So, so much more. Authorities across the world are starting to closely scrutinise loot boxes. In Sweden, the Minister for Public Administration is considering officially classing loot boxes as a form of gambling. Some in Germany, meanwhile, seek to ban them entirely.
It’s a difficult subject to broach. Really, it’s all about the degree of force to use. Do loot crates have a place, in gacha games that revolve around the subject? Is an outright ban too heavy handed? The proposal in Germany was to ban loot crates from games sold to minors, but what about those who want them (in moderation)? It’s a tough debate, one it’s super tough to find a middle ground to.
The approach Hawaii have brought forward offers something of a compromise. While these microtransactions will still be an option under House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, developers and publishers would be legally required to show the exact rates of the drops from loot boxes.
Which brings us back to League of Legends. While the neat little guide Riot have published is nothing earth-shattering, it’s a positive move nonetheless. Whether it’s just to save face or not, it’s proof that those responsible for loot boxes are beginning to respond to all of the criticism, and that’s something.