On the latest episode of GameSpot’s weekly PC-focused show, Steam Punks, hosts Jess McDonell and Edmond Tran discuss the ever-controversial topic of microtransactions and loot boxes in video games.
Microtransactions are commonplace in games big and small–in fact, it is oftentimes more surprising and newsworthy today when a game does not feature a microtransaction or loot box system. Why do such systems exist and how do they impact a game’s perception and value? Jess and Ed discuss these topics and more in the new episode, which you can watch above.
The topic of loot boxes in video games made international headlines in 2017 when EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II allowed players to pay for loot boxes, which contained items that impact gameplay. Many saw this as a form of gambling, and EA removed the game-affecting loot boxes on the eve of the game’s public release. EA reinstated microtransactions in early 2018, but there was a big change: only cosmetic items would be included with loot boxes. Belgium enacted a law recently that classified loot boxes as a form of gambling, and while Activision removed Overwatch’s loot boxes in Belgium, EA is staying the course and might go to court over it.
Jess and Ed discuss this news story and the related particulars about what makes loot boxes so compelling and just how lucrative they are to video game companies. Different games handle loot boxes differently, and they don’t always get such a bad rap. For example, Fortnite and Overwatch’s loot boxes only contain cosmetic items, and those games largely avoid negative publicity as a result.
Jess and Ed also answer your questions about last week’s episode about where to buy multiplatform games when you have so many different options.
Steam Punks airs every Monday on GameSpot.