One of the more interesting complaints I’ve heard about Overwatch is that of its microtransactions. Specifically, the only ones it has: loot boxes. It’s true, you can indeed purchase loot boxes:


At least it doesn’t say “Best Value.”

I find the complaint interesting because Blizzard has opted for the Hearthstone model when it comes to loot. Specifically, the items you receive are random, but duplicate items are converted to a currency that you can in turn use to purchase your exact desire. If said desire is a Legendary skin – which, let’s face it, is pretty much what everyone wants – it costs a maximum of 1000 currency.

I just hit level 30 50 the other night, which means I have opened a total of 30 50 loot boxes. After level 20, the XP required to get to the next level stays the same at 22,000 XP, and there is no level cap. There are a smattering of bonuses depending on match performance, but the biggest award is typically based on time spent in the match. Generally speaking, then, I’d say that you can average around 2200 XP per match, which takes ~10 minutes apiece, so… 1.5 hours of gameplay per box.

Given the above… how egregious are Overwatch’s loot boxes, really? One faction might suggest any microtransactions at all in a B2P game is too many. Another faction wants the ability to just purchase the skins they want. Another more bizarre faction laments the random nature of the loot boxes and what that means in terms of how long it takes to collect all the things.

And I get it. Sorta. But just like in Hearthstone, this is by far the most fair random loot box scheme that is likely possible. Most other games would be 100% fine with giving you useless duplicates, making it possible you never received anything you wanted. I’m not sure a middle way – such as loot boxes + the option to buy game currency – would really work economically, but I suppose that would be more fair.

In any case, of all the things one might criticize Overwatch about, I do not believe the loot boxes deserve to number among them.

Posted on June 13, 2016, in Overwatch and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. My problem with the loot boxes is three fold.

    RNG. While I agree with you that it is similar to Hearthstone, FPS don’t have the same lineage as CCGs do. I expect to have random loot in a card game because that’s how card packs work. I don’t like their gambling for children nature, but hey, I’ve had a few decades to get used to that one. (Plus, the game is so random that why shouldn’t card acquisition follow suit?)

    Box price. I paid good money to get a complete game at launch. While I understand Blizzard wants to make money, I am still not 100% comfortable with gaming’s trend of having cake and eating it too when it comes to full priced games with microtransactions.

    Lack of other content. I very much enjoy Overwatch, but I would’ve preferred direct methods of unlocking skins and the lack. It’d be nice to have something to work toward other than just more random loot.

    All that said, loot boxes in Overwatch is not a hill I would ever die on. They appear to be mostly harmless even if they are definitely not my preference.


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