How loot boxes are turning full-priced PC games into pay-to-win games of chance

Supply Crates. Battlepacks. Nitro Crates. War Chests. Prize Crates. Card Packs. Pioneer Crates. Treasure Chests. Loot Boxes. Whatever you call them, they’re the latest controversy to hit gaming. Not a new controversy by any means— these so-called “gacha mechanics" have cropped up in mobile games for almost a decade, been banned by a number of countries, and even made appearances on desktop. Valve’s Team Fortress 2 has featured them since 2010, for instance.

But the discussion around loot boxes has become frenzied this past month, thanks to three games in particular: Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and Star Wars Battlefront II.

Let’s recount their sins.


($60 ) used to feature a difficulty-based reward system. The more “Assists” you turned off (i.e. Throttle Assist, anti-lock brakes, the optimal path for your car to follow) the more credits you’d earn and the more cars you could, replaced with Prize Crates and “Mods,” or limited-use cards that reward you for specific actions during a race. And an announcer that urges you to purchase said Prize Crates. The game was actively designed to be worse in order to cram in loot boxes.

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