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OpenCritic joins the loot box backlash

“We’re going to take a stand” against the rising tide of microtransactions

shadow of war microtransactions
Shadow of the War is the latest game to go heavy on microtransactions.
Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

OpenCritic, one of the biggest game review aggregation sites, is throwing its weight behind the ensuing uproar about microtransactions. The website announced on Twitter that it planned to “take a stand against loot boxes,” updating its display filters to warn customers of the nature of paid content in games.

“We’re looking into ways to add business model information to OpenCritic,” the first of several tweets reads. “Let us know your thoughts on how we can categorize and display ‘business model intrusiveness’ on game pages in a fair and scalable way.”

Potential categories that readers can search for include whether a game’s content is “exclusively paid” or available for free in-game; whether it can be purchased directly or only acquired through loot boxes; whether there’s a store where players can purchase extra content or prompts to buy it during gameplay; and, notably, whether the content sold through microtransactions is cosmetic or has gameplay ramifications or boosts.

OpenCritic is designed as an objective aggregation site, so your mileage may vary on whether it’s the proper platform to be calling out publishers for their sales tactics. But the move is indicative of players’ growing resentment of microtransactions and randomized loot boxes.

The increased presence of downloadable content in major game releases has many players on edge this fall. Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Forza Motorsport 7 and NBA 2K18 are among the most cited recent examples of full-price games featuring additional paid content. Even Assassin’s Creed Origins and Star Wars Battlefront 2, which had its first public beta over the weekend, are already getting fans riled up over their potential DLC.

In the case of this week’s Shadow of War, a “bonus ending” can be reached without spending cash — but the game encourages players to pay up by making it extremely time-consuming otherwise. Situations like these are what get players riled up on places like Reddit, where the general games subreddit is constantly filled with frustrations about loot boxes and microtransactions.

It sounds like we’ll all be remembering 2017 as the year that loot boxes hit a fever pitch — not that it looks like publishers are willing to make concessions quite yet.

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