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With all the hoopla over loot boxes, potential government intervention, and contacting gambling commissions, a lot of people are wondering if loot boxes, and microtransactions in general, will take a backseat throughout 2018 in most major AAA games?
Well, according to a report on CNBC, one market analyst believes that all of the negative attention aimed at microtransactions from a swelling of mass protest from consumers last fall may have dire consequences for Activision and Electronic Arts throughout 2018. Cowen analyst Doug Creutz informed investors that we could be seeing a "pullback" on microtransactions, writing...
[Star Wars Battlefront II] has pretty clearly significantly underperformed expectations and remains without a live services revenue stream, while Destiny 2 has at the least suffered some unwanted engagement attrition. We suspect that 2018 will see a pullback on industry attempts to aggressively drive MTX growth as a result
That's an understatement for both games. Destiny 2 has undergone a massive downward spiral within its own community as far as player engagement and trust is concerned. There were back-to-back incidents involving purposed mechanics that set player progression and rewards access behind in order to lure players into purchasing microtransactions. These scalers were discovered by adept gamers who began running the numbers after they noticed something odd about their XP gains. It turned out that Bungie was purposefully capping XP and rewards for hardcore grinders in Destiny 2, prompting the developer to issue multiple apologies.
However, it didn't stop there. Bungie also began moving reward items from the main game into the microtransaction cash shop, something that gamers noticed and began protesting against loudly within the community, requesting Bungie to change the Eververse.
It's going to be a rough 2018 for Destiny 2 given that many gamers and streamers are soured on the experience after uncovering some unsavory plots to get them to part ways with their money, instead of getting them to enjoy the game.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 suffered an even more horrendous fate, receiving lots of negative feedback from the gaming community about its inclusion of microtransactions and loot boxes well ahead of its release. In fact, negative sentiments from the community began popping up during the summer of 2017 when gamers began protesting the idea that the game would include premium loot boxes for unlocking higher tier equipment during gameplay.
The protests reached fever pitch when parents began spreading viral images about Disney supporting gambling in games like Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Eventually, Disney reportedly had EA remove the microtransactions ahead of the game's full release.
According to Creutz, we could be seeing a scaling back of microtransactions from large AAA publishers throughout 2018 due to all the blowback, which also included games like Middle-Earth Shadow of War and Forza Motorsport 7, in addition to the other two major shooters mentioned above. However, I think it's best to wait and see how things play out, mostly because microtransactions have been a big profit-pusher for many top-tier publishers and it seems unlikely that the companies would forfeit that revenue stream so easily.