I don’t even want to know how much money you all have sunk into loot boxes for games like Dota 2, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike, and others. I know I was a sucker for loot when I played Dota 2 and CS:GO, but the most appealing aspect of these is not knowing what you’re about to get. Many players love the gamble, but that’s all about to change in China as a new regulation has been passed, going into effect on May 1st 2017, that forces game developers to show the statistical likelihood of what’s in their loot boxes before players open them. I don’t think I need to explain what result this has on these games, but just know it’s going to be huge.
The two new rules are explained below, translated by users on NeoGaf.
2.6 …Online game publishers shall promptly publicly announce information about the name, property, content, quantity, and draw/forge probability of all virtual items and services that can be drawn/forge on the official website or a dedicated draw probability webpage of the game. The information on draw probability shall be true and effective.
2.7 Online game publishers shall publicly announce the random draw results by customers on notable places of official website or in game, and keep record for government inquiry. The record must be kept for more than 90 days. When publishing the random draw results, some measures should be taken place to protect user privacy.
This is going to be a massive headache for developers when meeting this regulations and there will more than likely be a price drop, especially in these regions. China is arguably one of the largest gaming nations in the world, and the loot grab is going to come to a complete halt as the fun is completely taken out of the lucky draw. This will, inevitably, destroy the business model of every company who uses this system for their cosmetics, the most popular being Overwatch, but I fear the free-to-play games are going to be hit the hardest.
China is now the first to do this, but I don’t think they’ll be the last. The amount of money sunk into loot boxes makes up a large portion of profits for these companies, but perhaps a new system needs to be implemented where different boxes offer variety of loot for buyers. Countries with strict gambling regulations will soon follow suit, and the age of loot boxes might come to an abrupt end.