Many of this year’s biggest new games have one thing in common: loot boxes. The trend of selling a random assortment of virtual goods in exchange for real world money has popped up in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Forza Motorsport 7, Battlefront 2, and even, it seems, Assassin’s Creed Origins, sparking debate about monetary exploitation of customers and whether or not such microtransactions should be monitored by gambling laws.
Amidst all the controversy, one site is making a stand. Review aggregator OpenCritic has announced that it plans to make changes to its website in order to better inform customers of the microtransactions found in each game.
“We’re going to take a stand against loot boxes,” the company wrote in an announcement on Twitter. “We’re looking into ways to add business model information to OpenCritic… Let us know your thoughts on how we can categorize and display “business model intrusiveness” on game pages in a fair and scalable way.”
Some of our early axis:
– Random / Loot box vs “Sure-thing” / buying direct
– Cosmetic vs buying power
— OpenCritic (@Open_Critic) October 9, 2017
The site plans to have several different scales to measure microtransactions. One axis, for example, could measure how much paid items are purely cosmetic versus how much they directly power the player up, while another could measure how random each purchase is versus buying a skin or item directly. Other factors the site is considering marking include how intrusive prompts to purchase are, whether or not the items can be unlocked with normal gameplay, and how long the grind of a game takes to complete without microtransactions to speed it up.
OpenCritic has yet to implement any of these new functions, since it is still narrowing down on exactly what kind of information to present. However, more transparency is never a bad thing, and a game’s microtransaction practices may be as important a factor as a review score for many potential buyers.
We’ll keep an eye out for these changes on OpenCritic.