Games Inbox: Do you mind level-grinding in video games?
The morning Inbox considers the ethics of loot boxes and games aimed at children, as one reader suggests making a historical Hitman.
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Interesting that you published an article on loot crates being a form of gambling and Eurogamer published a similar article on the same day.
What this tells me is that there is a problem and it requires some form of regulation.
One of the comparisons made was that loot crates are no different to trading cards or football stickers, and on this point alone I fundamentally disagree. Cards and stickers that you already own could be traded amongst your friends, a loot crate has no physical existence, so cannot.
The point you made about the final level in Shadow Of War really puts the nail on the coffin though, and also highlights a difference between free-to-play games requiring significant outlay to proceed without inordinate amounts of grinding, and a full price, major title being skewed in the same way when you have already made a large financial commitment to play.
Ultimately, these things should be kept to cosmetic-only enhancement, having no bearing on the ultimate outcome of the game and letting the player’s own skill decide their fate.
Funnily enough, I’m currently playing Final Fantasy III on my SNES Mini and am having to grind to learn spells. But I don’t mind because I’m safe in the knowledge that the game is complete and encapsulated as an experience. There is no inducement that can let me skip levels, or sidestep my skill, or lack of it, and I’m enjoying the experience immensely as a result.
Doing the maths
Regarding the loot box situation I’ve seen many defending this and thinking it’s OK but I just want people to think about something, I’ve been working a few things out and the maximum credits earned in a match was 180 credits and the loot boxes were 1,100 credits so it’s roughly seven matches in order to gain one box.
Now say it’s £1 per loot box and someone spends £50 buying them, it means I have to do around 350 matches just to catch up and get the 50 boxes myself. Which is an insane amount of games to do and even at £2 a box it’s going to be around 175 matches, which for people who have jobs or kids or just don’t have the time that’s a number few people will get to.
if Star Wars: Battlefront II sells a lot, which we all know it will, it would mean that games like Battlefield and Titanfall will likely follow, and that’s something that is very worrying when it comes to online gaming and would mean an end to multiplayer gaming for a lot of people. I don’t mind loot boxes if they’re purely cosmetic, but in the case of Star Wars it’s progression based and that’s why there has been so many complaining.
ssj monkey boy (gamertag)
Nintendo in money-spending shocker
So wow! It looks like Nintendo threw quite a bit of money on that Super Mario Odyssey Jump, Jump Super Star video.
I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so pumped for a new Mario game since the N64 days, everything about Super Mario Odyssey has just oozed quality since its announcement, particularly this.
I know you shouldn’t get over excited about a game you’ve never played before but with every other trailer and what people who have played it have said, and now those rumours about Edge Magazine giving it a perfect 10, I have to say I can’t help but expect big things from it.
I mean, it even looked like Mario was trying to give one of Michael Jackson’s music videos a run for its money in terms of its quality. I’m sure they’ll be a mash-up video online someday.
I also have a sneaky suspicion that that video might be the opening scene to the title screen the second you put the cartridge in, it certainly would set the game off on the right foot.
I also think Ubisoft could do something with that for their Just Dance franchise, OK it needs a bit of work but it looks fun and could be a very lucrative download for both companies.
Let’s hope it lives up to the hype, I’m sure it will.
GC: The Edge 10/10 review is real.
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Take a stand
Having read your article on loot crates yesterday morning, I have decided to take a stand and cancelled my pre-order of Star Wars Battlefront II. I am a big Star Wars fan and was eagerly anticipating the game, but I am not willing to play a game where rich players will have such an advantage and where it seems that it is deliberately difficult to gain new upgrades and abilities without paying.
I knew the loot crates could be an issue but didn’t consider how damaging to the game they were until reading your article. Hopefully enough fellow gamers will vote with their wallet, so that publishers understand loot crates implemented in this way are not wanted.
Pigfish2 (PSN ID)
15 minutes later
So I get up for work at 7pm this morning (Thursday) and read GameCentral as I eat my Ready Brek. By 7.15 I’ve cancelled my order for Star Wars: Battlefront II.
I’m not against loot boxes altogether, but when they are pay to win then I’m out. And I have other friends that feel the same way. I hope enough boycott it to make a difference
manic miner 100 (gamertag)
Just read your article about the danger of loot boxes and I completely agree. Outside Rocket League I strictly play single-player games, and the new trends we’re seeing with Shadow Of War are worrying. I must confess to buying Shadow Of War for release day but I’ll be thinking twice in the future.
As you quite rightly mention, loot boxes are essentially gambling. I was wondering if they’re common in games aimed at younger audiences such as the Skylanders franchise? Surely there’s a moral issue there with children playing them, not old enough to pull a slot in a casino, not old enough to pay for a random loot box. Makes you wonder if all non-cosmetic loot box games should be 18-rated.
GC: Skylanders doesn’t have any loot boxes, although the morality of toys to life is a whole different question. Loot boxes are very common on smartphones though, which for many kids will be their primary format for games.
Time Lord assassin
I appreciate that I’m probably in the minority, but I’ve never got on with the Assassin’s Creed games. I’ve tried about three titles in the series, and the games always seemed to be more about jumping between endless towers and rooftops rather than being a historical assassin.
Ubisoft’s blockbuster franchise does present a brilliant gaming concept though, assassination through the ages. I just wish the games narrowed their focus and played like a historical version of Hitman.
I don’t know how Hitman’s developers could sell the idea narratively, but wouldn’t it be brilliant if the next Hitman game (if there is one) had levels set in different time periods?
I found that a lot of the levels in the last Hitman game felt slightly mundane.
How cool would it be to have Mr 47 stalking a senator inside Roman amphitheatre during a chariot race? Or what about a World War II level, in which Mr 47 bumps off a Nazi officer?
The possibilities are endless. In my opinion the central narratives have always been the weakest part of the Hitman games and I see no problem in abandoning sense and logic altogether.
Why can’t the next Hitman game set its levels wherever and whenever it wants?
I would like to say that your loot crate article was an amazing read, and a big well done in doing it and putting it out there and I felt compelled to write in. I agree with every word you said and I now worry for the future of my favourite hobby. There’s been lots mentioned by yourselves and the Inbox recently on the subject of loot crates, and it got me thinking about my own experience with them. I don’t think I ever have been affected by them until now, as it’s just been mainly season passes (I look at you Batman: Arkham Knight) or poor DLC where I’ve been burned in the past.
However, two games you mentioned in your article, Star Wars: Battlefront II and Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War, are where I will be affected, as these two games were two of my most wanted games this year. Regarding Shadow Of War, I have so far refused to buy this game despite loving the original and really wanting this one. As you mentioned in your review about the difficulty spike towards the end, meaning unless you want to grind your way there you can just buy loot crates to do it.
What a disgrace for a single-player game, totally not surprised by Warner Bros. tho’ as they fleeced me of the above mentioned Batman season pass funds, but not again. I’ll probably pick this up when it’s in the bargain bin after the new year, and even then won’t be spending a penny on the loot crates.
The other game is Battlefront II, and even at the time of writing this I still have it on Amazon pre-order. I’m seriously looking at cancelling this, which is proving very hard as I’m a massive Star Wars fan and the Star Wars fan in me is demanding the game. But using my head I don’t think I can go through with this purchase. I played the beta and it was great and all, but as someone else recently wrote in (can’t remember their name, sorry) about getting wasted constantly, this also happened to me many, many times.
I’ll admit I’m not the best at online shooters, far from it, but on one particular game of Strike the night before the beta ended, the winning person had like 60 kills. I ended the round on nine, which either says a lot about my level of skill (I didn’t manage to play it every day) or this other person has been playing the beta 24/7 since it was launched and is an absolute pro. Or the game is too unbalanced, which I think it was by quite some margin. If the beta was so badly unbalanced then surely the main game will be worse, it’s certainly not going to be any better as EA aren’t suddenly going to change things. What a shame.
Does GC know by any chance when the servers may be pulled for the original Battlefront? I was thinking of re-buying that, as it’s cheap as chips now for my Star Wars gaming fix. Although I wouldn’t be surprised in EA pulling them on release of the new one to avoid this very thing, I presume they’ll be wanting everyone on the new one ASAP, so they can start counting the cash rolling in. Unfortunately, there will be loads of people out there who will spend fortunes on the loot crates, and you’re right GC, it takes advantage of those out there with any form of gambling addiction.
Anyway, I managed to get a good go of the GT Sport demo last night and came away very impressed with what I saw and played. What is GC’s thoughts of it? I haven’t owned a decent racing game in ages, so I might buy this instead of Battlefront II. By the way thank goodness for Nintendo and the Switch. At least there you’re not getting fleeced for every penny, there the games are fun – which should be the number one priority after all. Also loved the new Mario advert. Actually loving everything Nintendo is doing right now and I hope it continues. Anyway, rant over. I’m off to cancel this pre-order.
Keep up the awesome work GC.
Bertie1 (PSN ID)
GC: Thank you. Companies don’t announce taking down servers very far in advance, but we would think Battlefront I will be safe for a couple of years. We actually haven’t played the GT Sport demo, since our review copy is coming in soon anyway.
Are you reviewing the new South Park game? Is there an embargo in place? When does it lift?
GC: The embargo ends at noon on Monday.
Didn’t realise how much I was looking forward to Life Is Strange’s next episode until I saw the news about next week. If all the episodes are up to snuff I think this could end up eclipsing the first game.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader msv858 (Twitter), who asks what’s your favourite start to a video game?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a non-interactive intro or cut scene, the opening moments of the first level, or the whole thing, but what do you think is the most memorable and effective start to a game? How important is it that a game grabs you straight away, or are you okay with a slow burn?
How long does it take you to make a first decision about a game, and what’s the quickest you’ve ever given up on one? Conversely, what’s the quickest you’ve realised a game is a classic, and that you’re definitely going to love it?
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