Lootboxes – or microtransactions, depending on how one looked at it – was one of the gaming industry’s biggest lexicon for 2017. A hotly-debated topic, it garnered so much attention that ESRB had to step in with a loot box label for physical games, following a string of analyses and reports from different media outlets, and GeekCulture was no exception.
Barring Star Wars Battlefront II, the other title held culpable for the whole fiasco would be Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and in what seems like an act to end off what it has started, publisher Warner Bros. will soon be removing all forms of real-money purchases from the game.
Stated on their official website is the rationale behind the move, which brings forth the point of undermining experiences from the game’s Nemesis System due to the ability to purchase orcs with real-life cash:
The core promise of the Nemesis System is the ability to build relationships with your personal allies and enemies in a dynamic open world. While purchasing Orcs in the Market is more immediate and provides additional player options, we have come to realize that providing this choice risked undermining the heart of our game, the Nemesis System. It allows you to miss out on the awesome player stories you would have otherwise created, and it compromises those same stories even if you don’t buy anything. Simply being aware that they are available for purchase reduces the immersion in the world and takes away from the challenge of building your personal army and your fortresses. In order to fully restore the core promise of the Nemesis System, we’ll be permanently removing Gold, War Chests and the Market from Shadow of War. This means the option to purchase Gold with real-world money and the ability to gain Orc Followers from War Chests will be removed. There will be a specific amount of time given for players to utilize their unused Gold. If players have unused Gold by the end of the time allotted to spend it, any remaining Gold will be converted to in-game items.
The effect isn’t immediate, for May 8, 2018 will be the last day for players to buy Gold with real-world money. However, players will still be able to spend Gold and receive it until the Marketplace closes down for good on July 18, 2018.
That doesn’t mean chests are no longer available in the game, though. Where war chests are being cut out of the game, the usual loot boxes remain but are unpurchasable with cash.
It may come across as a weird timing to introduce the change, but with Shadow of War‘s Desolation of Morder expansion coming up in the same month, the removal of microtransactions actually makes sense. The July date is probably intended for users to finish using up all their Gold, before the playing field gets levelled out in the absence of pay-to-win content.