The implementation of loot boxes remains a popular topic of discussion within the gaming community almost a year after their use began to draw controversy. The backlash, spawned from how titles like Middle Earth: Shadow of War and Star Wars Battlefront II integrated blind box systems, has led developers and publishers to use the absence of such systems in their games as a selling point. It even extended to the E3 stage, as EA DICE continued its apology tour for Battlefront II’s loot box system during EA’s presentation Saturday afternoon.
However, in an interview with Bloomberg, Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé weighed in on the loot box discussion, stating his belief that they have gotten a “bad rap.”
“Loot boxes, broadly speaking, have gotten a bit of a bad rap. The game mechanic of buying something that you’re not sure what’s inside is as old as baseball cards,” said Fils-Aimé. The comparison to physical card packs is interesting as items for Nintendo’s Pokemon Trading Card Game are mainly sold through booster packs of which customers don’t know the contents. To date, such a system hasn’t transitioned into Nintendo’s first party videogame offerings beyond the mobile market, but Fils-Aimé’s sentiments could point to loot boxes not being ruled out for future titles barring any legislative rulings against their use.
Fils-Aimé did offer some caveats to any use of loot boxes in future Nintendo titles. “What we believe at Nintendo is that a gameplay mechanic that offers the consumer something to buy that they’re not sure what’s inside can be interesting as long as that’s not the only way you can get those items … that’s where some developers have made some mistakes. For us, it’s one of many mechanics we can use to drive ongoing engagement in the game,” said Fils-Aimé.
It’s clear that the Nintendo head realizes the shortcomings and advantages of such systems, but whether the company chooses to expand its use of such mechanics and can do so while dodging the pitfalls of developers past remains to be seen.