Young gamers may love loot boxes too much
The latest gaming news, boiled down, in 3:28 minutes.
What’s being boiled down today?
- A new study from the UK quantitatively demonstrates the addictive capabilities of loot box mechanics on young gamers.
- The hit game Among Us is the most popular game ever in terms of monthly players according to Neilsen’s SuperData.
Hide your kids…
What’s the fuss?
A report from The Gambling House Alliance, an UK-based organization dedicated to reducing the damages of gambling, recently revealed a report on the potential adverse effect of loot boxes in video games on young gamers.
Loot boxes are essentially the virtual equivalent of capsule-toy vending machines. Within these games, players pay real world money in exchange for a randomized selection of virtual items, or “loot”, that are usually cosmetic in nature. Such mechanics were popularized in free-to-play mobile phone games as one of the few methods of monetization, but soon enough they found their way into fully-priced video games on consoles and PCs. The spread of loot boxes within these games increased their overall popularity, with some developers reporting upwards of 50% of their entire revenue directly attributable to microtransactions.
Having said that, the results of the study are staggering. Out of 611 participants aged 11 to 16 years old: 13% of them claimed loot boxes put them in debt, 15% of them took money from their parents without permission to purchase them, and 22% of them spend over £100 on loot boxes in addition to the purchase of the game itself.
Boiling it down
Statistics not large enough for you? Think about it this way. Loot boxes are usually priced lower in order to entice repeat purchases. Additionally, many games with such microtransactions will try to hide how much you are truly spending by requiring the player to first purchase some sort of game-specific premium currency (i.e. V Bucks in Fortnite) and then forcing the use of that currency to purchase the microtransactions, instead of just purchasing the loot boxes outright with a credit card. Thus, the connective thread between how much real world money players are spending directly on loot boxes is obscured by this made-up currency.
Compounded by the fact that the contents of these boxes are randomized, this can cause some gamers to spend more than intended trying to find specific items, like this guy. With proven studies showing a linkage between loot box spending and gambling problems, it’s no wonder policy makers all over the world are starting to introduce legislation to curb this practice such as Belgium, who banned loot boxes outright in 2018. Caveat emptor.
Four people drew in… half a billion?!
What’s the fuss?
Among Us, the hit game from indie developer InnerSloth, saw half a billion people play the game in the month of November, the most monthly players for a mobile game ever.
Among Us has taken the world by storm this year. Originally released in 2018 to little fanfare, it surged in popularity seemingly due to COVID-19 (as socialization is a key component of the game) followed by many content creators playing/streaming the game online such as congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who attracted over 400,000 viewers with her stream.
To the uninitiated, Among Us is is a online multiplayer social deduction game where the majority of players must work together to identify the imposter within the group, who in turn is trying to kill them. This milestone is unbelievable, besting other mobile games such as Pokémon GO, especially when the development team only consists of 4 people.
Boiling it down
It’s no question that the mobile gaming market is well established, owning 45% of the $152 billion and growing global gaming market. Despite the fact that 97% of the half a billion play the game on mobile devices (the other 3% play on PC), the success of Among Us shouldn’t completely be attributable to market trends — it’s from accessibility.
By the time someone asks you to play Among Us with them, you can be in the same game in less than 5 minutes time, without a penny spent if you play on a mobile device. The rules are easy enough to learn and the controls only consist of a few buttons. Rounds are relatively fast and well-paced, which encourages replayability. The game can be played on any mobile device or tablet. Best of all, you can play this game wherever and whenever you want — no need to go outside and catch critters.
Low barriers to entry are why Among Us is the behemoth it is, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to play it sometime soon.
Definition of the day!
F2P (Free to play)
Any game that is free to access, yet offers an in-game store that encourage spending with real world money for certain perks, items, and features. Examples include Fortnite and League of Legends)
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