We are familiar with loot boxes and all they entail. There are digital loot boxes in our games and physical ones in our lives. The mystery and allure of the “What am I going to get” mentality is alive and well, to such extremes that we are actually seeing both digital and physical crates for virtual and actual pets. Companies are going to try and sell us things we don’t need and in some cases not even want, and some people are going to keep buying because there is the slightest chance something good could be in there. We’re still gambling with our microtransactions.
But now, we have an indication that the situation could get even worse. It’s all because of Call of Duty: WWII and Activision. Somehow, I always knew Call of Duty would be our downfall. (I kid.) The newest installment will have a Headquarters area. This is a social space where 48 people can hang out between matches. This is where everyone can open loot boxes. Herein lies the problem. It feels like Activision is trying to create a system in which people feel even more of a compulsion to buy loot boxes in the name of popularity and additional digital rewards.
This is how the Headquarters loot box thing will work. When you open a loot box, others can watch. The viewers can have a chance of winning items just for watching you open boxes. The idea is to make it a more social experience. You know, give people something to enjoy and do between matches. But really, it is creating an opportunity to make loot boxes even worse by attaching additional incentives to buy onto them.
Think about how many people are going to probably buy loot boxes as an attempt to get famous and earn friends. After all, there will be tangible rewards for everyone involved with this new system. The people buying and opening the loot boxes are getting all sorts of gratification. They earn items from the loot boxes. They get immediate attention from the people watching them. They could get a reputation for their loot box openings and perhaps use that to build both an in-game and, if they are streamers, online following.
As for the other people, there is the sense of envy and accomplishment. Others will want to be around to watch, because they can get rewards for being present. They will spend more time on and with the game. They may even buy their own loot boxes to emulate the behavior and offer the same sort of experience. Activision has created a system that is designed to continually get people thinking about loot boxes in their spare time online in Call of Duty: WWII.
And that’s problematic due to all the other inherent issues with loot boxes. They’re gambling. This isn’t like normal DLC, where you know exactly what you will get and pay a one-time fee to acquire that item. These are constant unknowns, where you don’t know what your money is getting you. The odds are not in your favor. But by giving them an even more prominent platform in Call of Duty: WWII is detrimental. It is making the experience even more social and piles on positive reinforcement.
We are entering an era where loot boxes should be more transparent. Companies should be forced to disclose percentage rates of actually acquiring different items. There should be acknowledgement that this is gambling. Instead, Activision is using Call of Duty: WWII to try and normalize them.