I have a vision. That vision is for the perfect lootbox. I've already shared my position on this: I honestly don't feel that hesitant to invest a few pound into a game I regularly enjoy, even if I've already paid for it. But it has to be worth my while. The game has to guarantee that.
As things stand, I'm not comfortable, and haven't spent a penny on random in game items since I bought a Team Fortress 2 crate key years ago and frankly just felt disappointed.
I need three guarantees from lootboxes. If you want to take away my freedom of choice when it comes to buying content for my game, then you need to make me feel comfortable with it. AAA publishers and mobile game devs alike, take note if you want my money:
1. Everything is available separately
This doesn't need any clarification, does it? If I buy a lootbox, I want to know exactly what could be inside, by giving me an actual shop where I can buy things separately if I wish.
Sure, whack the rarity up on the nicer things, I won't argue, but I need to know I can step outside of the lootbox menu and get what I want instantly if I want.
2. Never duplicates
Another straightforward one. Duplicates in many mobile games with random lootbox or chest systems are there to stretch things out. Getting duplicate characters often mean the character will get a boost of some kind - or worse, will require 50 duplicates for a boost.
It's the easy way to stretch things out and make lootboxes seem incredibly unrewarding. Especially if you get a rare skin or costume you want, straight after getting the same skin. That'd be just my luck, really, and the occasional whimpers I see from Overwatch fans on Twitter make me think I shouldn't get involved.
3. Cheaper the random way
If you could buy everything separately, what would be the point in lootboxes then? Simple. Value, for loss of choice. Street Fighter V is my example, because it's one of the very few games in the world where I feel comfortable buying a costume for £3.50.
However there's many I don't own. They're for characters I use less, or I don't like them as much. But that doesn't mean I don't want them - they're just not quite worth it as they are.
Now, if I could receive a random SFV costume from the store for a reduced price - say, £2? - which I don't already own, I'm sure I would've already spent much more money on the game, frankly. I'm already tempted to buy a costume or two, but the price and how often I'd use them put me off.
With a bit more value, those concerns would be pushed to the side, and I'd be that much more willing to put my own money down for small cosmetic items.
Yes, sure, players intending to buy all the costumes could use this method to simply buy them all at a reduced price, but that is, in essence, like a season pass, right? A reduced price for bulk buying content? Sounds fair to me. And if it helps players feel like they're saving money and cheating the system, isn't that yet another positive?
It's still a pretty complicated area, and it seems like with AAA games at least, publishers have been scared away from lootboxes by the controversy that has swirled around Star Wars Battlefront II and other games.
Mobile games, though? Their free-to-play nature means their microtransactions aren't going anywhere fast, but hopefully they can become even fairer to players and more enticing, so they can avoid another ludicrous lootbox lark in the future.