Much of the talk/controversy surrounding loot boxes lately has dealt with their recent inclusion in full-priced games, like Star Wars Battlefront II or Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Free-to-play games have, naturally, been using loot boxes for years, and a few developers of prominent F2P titles recently talked about their experiences in creating them and making them palatable to players.
Gamasutra interviewed team members of Defiance, World of Warships, and Star Trek Online to talk about how their games arrived at their current loot box systems. Their probably-carefully-worded answers cover the usual ground, about how they try to carefully balance rewards while making sure everything obtainable from a loot box is also attainable in-game without taking “an unfair amount of time,” as Defiance Producer Matt Pettit says. “We think about the player-facing perspective as the priority, and the business need second. Without the first, the second doesn’t happen.”
STO’s Stephen Ricossa and his team “took our best guess with our initial lock box offerings,” while Wargaming’s Philip Molodkovets said “the backlash was strong and immediate” when World of Warships erred in adding unappealing items to its loot boxes. And all three developers have re-worked their loot boxes’ graphical appeal when being opened — whether for special events or permanently.
For what it’s worth, I feel like World of Warships does a good job with how it offers loot boxes in game, and I don’t recall having any issues with Defiance’s implementation during the short while I played that. I played Star Trek Online for an even shorter period of time, five years ago, so I can’t really speak to how that game does things, but at least it (and the other two games) don’t seem to have had a “burn it all down” incident like some other games have had.