The new meaning of "start to crate"


#1

LOOT CRATES!

I think we can agree that this is the year that AAA was finally able to pivot to the loot crate system for getting more revenue out of their players. In some cases like Overwatch, this is awesome because everyone gets free maps, additional characters, new modes and all of the crate contents are cosmetic and have no impact on gameplay. Then you have games like Forza 7, that have loot crates that contain more than just cosmetic stuff, while also offering regular DLC packs and season pass content on top of the base game price.

Shadow of War and Battlefront II seem to be aiming for a middle area. In Shadow of War, the loot crates definitely alter the game, but according to early previews they really are only necessary if you decide to grind out 100% of the game’s content after the meat of the campaign. Plus, it’s a mostly single player game. Battlefront II offers boosts and consumables in its crates that do influence multiplayer, but no one seems to mind because it’s Star Wars, which is a loosey-goosey affair anyway.

While PUBG has only “tested” their crate system so far, they will offer them someday. Fortnite doesn’t really have its Battle Royale crates yet, but Epic has said they will implement them eventually, and in the meanwhile they do have crates for the current pay-to-play modes.

Basically, this is the future of gaming. Maybe some other revenue system will come along (we’ll have to wait for Valve or Blizzard to stumble on it) but this is the way forward, at least for AAA.

  1. What do you think that next big business model innovation will be?

  2. What’s the fastest “start to crate” that you know of? That is, what game has the shortest amount of time from the start to a loot crate opening? Alternately, what game has the shortest amount of time from start to the moment when a player really must buy a loot crate to proceed?


Time for Old Man Murray to be relevant again
#2

Well done for using the correct term instead of the much more intuitive “Time to Crate”!


#3

As for new business models, I think there might be more “sequels that are part of the same game” like Total War: Warhammer and whatever Hitman Season 2 is going to be that we’ll get to know soon enough. I think it might be a positive thing.


#4

These should follow China and force companies to reveal drop rates, without Drop rate it’s worse than gambling, it’s pure lunacy to play


#5

Just to clarify, we’re talking about loot crates that you have to pay real money to open? Because Destiny 2 is full of goddamn crates, you complete a public event, get a crate. Kill a high value target, that’s a crate. Sometimes you’re walking along and hey look! Crate. But they are free, so they make everyone happy.


#6

Fortnite has loot Pinata’s. :)


#7

That stuff doesn’t make me happy. Random crap is boring.

For example: I think they’re actively sabotaging Nioh by turning it into one big loot game (no crates, but every enemy is a crate, in practice).

What I want is reward X for challenge Y, harder challenges giving cooler stuff, not the skinner box.


#8

You say that, but you’d change your tune if an exotic engram popped out of that crate. That’s like heroin, man, straight endorphins.


#9

Haha, maybe.


#10

I don’t think we need to drag Diablo-style action RPG loot into it. Some people don’t like that, but the loot crate system is an extra step past that.


#11

I only accept Battlefront II’s loot crates because.

  1. You don’t pay to open them.

  2. You get them by playing and shooting at things.

Yeah sure someone can swoop in and buy 100 crates and have better ‘stats’ on their trooper dude. Odds are they won’t be in my next match.


#12

Either you have to pay to open them via keys you buy with real money, or you can just straight up buy more crates with real money.

In-game crates/chests that you just open as part of the game (Diablo/Borderlands) aren’t part of this discussion, although, there’s a damn good revenue idea somewhere there. Imagine Diablo, but you have to pay to open the in-game chests or pay to “identify” the rare equipment.


#13

Do we count gacha systems as “loot crates”? If so, most mobile games that feature the mechanic have you interact with it during the tutorial, even if they don’t make you spend real money for the first pull. Most of those games are also “nicer” about it than the typical loot crate examples, and give you loads of free real-money currency or gacha pulls over the course of playing the game or through various events, but that doesn’t stop people from blowing hundreds or thousands of dollars to get more pulls.


#14

Yeah I was shocked to see their loot crates not wanting to rape my wallet.


#15

So if a game is released in China right now, they have access to a shown drop rate but we don’t?

Is that info on the 'net? I’d be curious to know what the numbers are. How likely are you to get a Legendary skin from a regular battlechest in Battlefield 1 compared to whatever the premium crate is?

EDIT: I guess you also have to factor in your chances of actually getting a battlechest at the end of the game.


#16

https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2017/05/05/china-has-forced-blizzard-to-reveal-exact-overwatch-and-hearthstone-drop-rates/#514a589b5a14


#17

Whales will be whales. I think the best systems are very generous to free players and charge the whales massive amounts. See Fire Emblem Heroes or Fate Grand Order for example. Buying currency is ludicrously expensive in these games, to the point that most people wouldn’t even consider it (a single 10x pull in FGO would require you to spend over 20 bucks, with no guarantee of getting anything useful), but they gave you quite a bit just for playing and you don’t need to buy to have a fun experience.


#18

I guess that’s the upside of it, whales are subsidizing game development.


#19

I don’t know if there’s much difference between the specifics of what makes something “gacha” vs “blind-box” vs “loot crate” any longer. I guess it all blends together at this point.

I will say that loot crates, as in the Overwatch, BF1, Battlefront II, Forza 7, Shadow of War, Fortnite, etc variety are specifically designed to push our psychological buttons. For example, the actual fanfare and animation associated with opening these newer boxes have literally been designed for maximum effect.

Overwatch’s loot box is a masterpiece of audio-visual design. “It’s all about building the anticipation. When the box is there you’re excited at the possibilities of what could be inside,” says senior game designer Jeremy Craig. Click the ‘Open loot box’ button and the box bursts open, sending four disks into the sky. Their rarity is indicated by coloured streaks to further build the suspense. “Seeing purple or gold you start to think about what specific legendary or epic you’ve unlocked. This all happens so fast, but it was those discrete steps that we felt maximized excitement and anticipation.”

Hearthstone’s opening animation is likewise engineered to trigger anticipation, and also to make the cards desirable objects and to imbue them with a sense of value. From the start it was important that they’d evoke real collectible cards. As Thompson says: “Ripping that foil pack and feeling it give, that moment of excitement that anything’s possible.”

Rather than hitting a button and watching, as you do when opening most loot boxes, from Battlefield 1 to Overwatch, you have to drag a pack over to what Blizzard calls the altar. There’s a brief moment as blue magical power builds, and then, in the case of the classic packs, the cards suddenly burst out in a shower of glitter and gold. With Journey to Un’goro packs, they emerge in a crackle of lightning (which echoes its evolve mechanic), and a shattering of ice in the Knights of the Frozen Throne packs.

The challenge was to design a sequence that would feel special to those opening a single pack while not wearying those opening 50 in a row. “If you buy that many you don’t want to spend half your day opening them, you want to get them open and start building decks and experience the real focus of the game,” says Thompson. “As much ceremony as we want to put into the pack opening, we need to keep it concise.” The sweet spot, it turns out, is about two seconds.

As Overwatch does, Hearthstone indicates the rarity level of the cards you’ll be getting before the cards are actually revealed. Mouse over their backs and you’ll see a colored glow on rare, epic or legendaries. “We don’t immediately flip them, we let player agency take a seat in the sense of controlling what order they flip them in, how they flip them, the time between each flip.”


#20

We do need a new metric if people are willing to buy crates before the game is even out or playable.