Review Aggregate OpenCritic Takes Stance Against Loot Boxes

Love them or hate them, loot boxes, crates, chests – whatever the developer calls them, they’re popular and for a good reason: they’ve successfully westernized the long-running gacha mechanic seen in various Japanese games. Some paid games even have these mechanics in the full, paid product now – thus review aggregate OpenCritic is taking a stance against the scheme.

“We’re going to take a stand against loot boxes. We’re looking into ways to add business model information to OpenCritic,” the company said on Twitter.

They went a bit further in asking their fanbase to help them decide on a fair and appropriate way to display a game has these mechanics, to display “business model intrusiveness.”

OpenCritic didn’t stop there, however, as they’re looking to specify whether or not a game has random / loot boxes versus “sure-thing” or buying things direct, as well as straight up cosmetic in-game purchases and how much buying power you have. They also want to specify if something is exclusively paid or if it can also be acquired in-game.

Finally, they noted a need to focus on whether or not a game has in-game prompts for purchasable content or simply a dedicated in-game store instead, as well as how long it would take to get 100% completion in the game with absolutely no extra payment.

OpenCritic has been presenting itself as a direct alternative to Metacritic, where the former presents objective aggregates of all the review scores to a game – while the latter weighs the various scores against their own formula (which factors in things outside the score itself). OpenCritic is going a step further now in trying to present further details to more empower the consumer.

Brandon Orselli

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Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • braneman

    Very good, ever since Overwatch and it’s “it’s a full priced game, but it’s ok because they’re only cosmetic” loot boxes came out I’ve been worried about other AAA companies taking advantage of this, And they have. Of course people can argue that “Cod did it first” but I’m going to say that whatever Cod game you’re talking about didn’t sell over 30 million copies and have legions of fans saying “it’s fine because it’s only cosmetic.”

  • Taiho

    Maybe that’s how over-bloated games make back their money these days, they know they’ll never sell the 10 million copies forecasted by the publisher to recoup development costs, so instead it’s about bleeding how much they can from the player by locking content like this away until you pony up more money.

  • PenguinPlayer

    Gatcha is the devil and it must be stopped.

  • Mr0303

    Not a fan of these aggregate sites, but this would actually be some really useful information to see which developers have put anti consumer practices in their game.

    Loot boxes themselves are a red flag, but knowing the specifics would be nice.

  • PenguinPlayer

    Gatcha is the devil and it must be stopped. Have you seen Fate/Grand Order gatcha rates? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fdaf49233ab67472a10ba647481a123c486979810dc278b5110d6c13e4f41d69.jpg

  • luggage lad

    Lootboxes are gambling, plain and simple, but they hide behind the fact that they are within games to allow them to get away with illegal practices. Companies like Blizzard should not be allowed to hide the odds of getting rare items in lootboxes under any circumstance, but because they pigeon-hole themselves as Video Games they are allowed to get away with obscuring or tweaking odds at their whim.

    Then, these same gatcha companies will shut down their servers and take the goods you gambled real money for. Effectively being gambling with 0 risk for the house and 0 consumer rights. These practices should be illegal, and if some serious legislation was made given consumers ownership of the digital goods they paid physical money for, there would be less of these abusive microtransactions in games.

  • Silhouette

    We must have our FGO waifus, though.

  • DrearierSpider

    Good to see, I fucking hate this slow creep of gambling into video games. Hopefully more consumers vote with their wallets with easier access to this info in a clear, concise form.

  • luggage lad

    It’s because it’s free money and little risk on the developers. These companies aren’t struggling to make back their money on projects, they’re just struggling to become the next multi-billion dollar seller like OW.

    That’s why mobile games come and go constantly. They launch them hoping they’ll be a hit, and if they underperform, they axe them and relaunch constantly with no legal risks of selling false expectations… essentially lying scams game companies have devised to fleece as much money as they can. They have no intention of going back to the way things were.

  • Baron Krause

    Good, I never had issue with DLC in games. A flat 1$-$10 cost for a specific item you want isn’t horrible.

    A $5 for a random chance at “Something” is just fucking bullshit. Even better is knowing that if they have that business model going then they actually don’t give a crap about anyone who isn’t spending over $1000 a week as their the target market.

    So in the end it doesn’t even matter how displeased you are with them with your “meager” $60-$100 spent, you can go take a hike for all they care.

    They love to say “Oh but its only cosmetics” like it doesnt matter as if the end game for almost every game out there isn’t all about collecting the various best cosmetic items.

  • ProxyDoug

    I know it’s free and all but TF2 did it first years ago.
    Not only you need to buy expensive keys to unlock chests that drop extensively, there is an entire game mode in which you need to pay to play and once you finish, you get one weapon of a certain kind at random. And they’ve done it several times.
    Overwatch? You can get the by just playing. TF2? Not really.

  • The writing is on the walls. Gacha in Japan has gotten to the point where anime live and die by the performance of their gachas, and outright advertise them. This has to be nipped at the bud, and quarantining them is at least one step closer to extermination.

  • mewnani

    TF2 is free to play though. Loot boxes are problematic no matter what game they’re in but it’s less looked down upon in a F2P game as opposed to one you pay up front for because they have to recoup their money SOMEHOW. Problem is, other companies saw this and how much money it makes and thought, “Hm, I wonder if I can get a sweet slice of that loot box pie in my $60 game…”

  • Travis Touchdown

    Overwatch hasn’t sold thirty million copies.

  • Travis Touchdown

    Here’s an idea: STOP BUYING AAA GAMES.

    I’ve been doing my part for years.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    If you’re gonna partake of the mobileshit; at least go for the one that doubles the rates at the end of the month. Also better collab events.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/46e6d675fbe2022d9264e490ca473d6352de0062752fce31365ddbc23eba421b.png

  • Himegami Aisa

    Free-to-play now, but they introduced microtransactions into the paid game before they made everyone who paid money for the game look like a rube. Valve really like fucking over their fans.

  • Captain Vidya

    True, but the update that added the crates also introduced item trading and crafting as well as random item drops, but that might have come before. In TF2 there are alternate ways of getting items be it by random chance or exchanging items you don’t want/have duplicates of for what you do want (unless it’s a hat). You can also just flat out buy the items with money instead of spending money for a chance to get them.

    Lots of these other games don’t have such a system; you’re stuck with what you get with no way of getting what you actually want except for sacrificing a goat to R.N. Jesus.

    This is all assuming they didn’t get rid of items themselves dropping since I last played. If it’s the case that they did, then fuck ’em.

  • Madbrainbox

    Zelda is AAA mate.

  • Warrior90

    As are most other Nintendo IPs.

  • Madbrainbox

    Ah long gone are the good ole’ times of expansions.Now we have this garbage.

  • Johnny “Beat” Medina

    Never had a problem with gacha systems. As long as it’s purely cosmetic as a super poorfag I don’t really care if there is an in-game shop or infinite hell gacha rolling.

  • Riosine

    Why don’t people just get a hack tool from the internet open their Save files and manually activate the random loot they looking for?
    I mean Beside cause they’re addicted to spending insane amount of money and time open random bullshit for sub 1% drop rates

  • chaoguy

    Not just that, but having someone talking about it helps as well. Shake the tree- see the monkeys holler. Maybe if they screw up trying to stop that, they’ll get caught red handed.

  • PaRaLLaXTHeTiCS

    At one point, I hoarded game won loot boxes in Overwatch thinking that I could save them for seasonal events not realizing at the time that they wouldn’t contain specific seasonal items. Ok that’s fine. But what happened when the season rolled out really pissed me off. All my loot boxes disappeared. I contacted support and never got a response.

  • VLOCKUP

    Waifus have better value than fucking skins.

  • Scruffy, the Janitor

    This takes responsibility away from the consumer though. I dont disagree with your morality behind it, but the consumer needs to get smarter. They keep doing this shit because people keep paying for it. The free market can be a great thing. But it only works autonomously when the consumer is smart as well.

  • le master trole

    hell will freeze over before gamers as a consumer group wisen up

  • luggage lad

    To an extent, but you can’t necessarily say it’s the consumer’s fault for being lied to or fed false expectations. And I consider expectations and hype to be as much a tangible asset to a game as advertising. When you’re feeding players this notion that the items they’re buying or gambling for will be there for them.

    I think it’s weird when a company builds up hype about a game and implies that it’ll be around for them, just to back out and then people on forums will laugh at the poor fools who got roped in and seek to blame them instead of the companies who basically hold all the cards and have 0 responsibility. it’s a nice situation for them, as they can play god, restrict and tweak odds, restrict ability to trade or sell what you paid money for, and still be defended. At what point does that turn from free market to manipulation?

    Sure WE may know better (I’ll never spend money on a gatcha in my life), but it’s praying on people who haven’t seen the trends yet. And the trends can keep changing and are veiled in dishonesty. It’s a form of lying to extract money and as soon as you’re under any risk to back out. I’m not sure if that’s free market as much as it is exploitation, but it is interesting how these games are reflecting the free market in them: It hardly matters if consumers become responsible, as these games aren’t aimed at them. They’re aimed at the whales. The other players are there just to keep them entertained. And now it’s seeping into singleplayer console/PC games and they have no intention of giving up this ground. They’ve tasted it in mobile and they want us non-mobile players to live with it too.