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Loot boxes are (often paid) boxes containing random loot.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Camwood on Jan 1st 2018 at 4:47:22 PM
Last Edited By:
Camwood on Mar 7th 2018 at 4:53:47 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

In video games, a "loot box" is a container with randomized, possibly rare loot. They may be actual boxes within the game world which the Player Character picks up, but usually are an abstract component, instead of boxes in the actual game universe. They're often gotten from the game's menu system outside of gameplay (a process that can include Microtransactions), and their "contents" aren't limited to physical items but can include insubstantials like new classes or skins.

The first clear examples of this mechanic are the Chinese ZT Online (2007) and Canadian FIFA 09 (2008). In The Far East it would soon come to dominate the mobile and browser gaming markets, where it's known as "gacha" after the toy capsule machines.

Loot boxes serve as a point of contention due to many allegedly free games which have hidden real and tangible ways of Bribing Your Way to Victory behind this randomized method of aquisition, with countries such as Australia and Belgium investigating whether or not a lootbox-driven system should be regulated as gambling - something China, Japan, and the Isle of Man already do, effectively making the trope broken in those parts of the world.

Your Mileage May Vary on whether lootboxes are a detriment: While a lot of allegedly free games use them as a Paper-Thin Disguise to hide that they allow Bribing Your Way to Victory, some games allow them to be earned freely, some have the lootboxes only contain Cosmetic Awards, some allow the purchase of items contained inside them through other means, and some have the lootbox acquisition be parallel to just playing the game and not dropped along with your average random loot drops, and some utilize lootboxes as their only way of monetising a Free To Play model. It's the vast difference in business models surrounding lootboxes that has made the general public sceptical of them, considering that one lootbox system may be wildly different to another despite appearing to be the same on the surface. The vast difference also makes it a pain to trope them sometimes.

The paid version of these is a sub-trope to Microtransactions, though the tropes are not mutual as some instances of loot boxes are not paid for. A sub-trope of Mystery Box. Mutually related to Random Loot.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Action 
  • Battlerite has multiple varieties of Chests that can be bought or earned by levelling up your profile and Champions. Their contents are purely cosmetic aside from one example:
    • Silver chests are bought with Battlecoins, the currency used to unlock new Champions.
    • Gold chests are bought with the premium currency, Gems, and contain at least one Epic quality item. you get two quests per week that award one Gold chest each.
    • Legendary chests contain at least one Legendary quality item. They can only be earned by completing certain objectives.
    • Event chests are only available for a limited time and contain event-exclusive items. They come in two versions: a basic version that replaces Silver chests, and a premium version that contains at least one non-duplicate item (so opening enough of these chests guarantees you will have all event items).
    • Special chests are available when a new Champion is released, and guarantee that you will get said Champion's Legendary items.
    • The Champion chest unlocks one new playable Champion (the only non-cosmetic thing you can get from Chests). You can only get one from completing the tutorial.

    Card Games 
  • Kantai Collection has it in form of (Large) Ship Constructions. There, you issue an order to make a new ship girl, the results of which are random. The girls appropriately have "rarity grades" that signifies the chances of them being made. Constructing new ships simply requires the in-game resources as payment, but the building time tend to be long (especially for Large version).

    Fighting Games 
  • A gacha system exists in Get Amped; some of the gacha uses the in-game money, some others use real-life ones. The gacha can give you either multiple copies of weapons, enhancement cards, or powerful accessories, the latter of which being the higher grade prizes.
  • Street Fighter V Arcade Edition has a variation: There are select challenges that require spending in-game currency to acquire more currency, EXP, or a unique costume. However, they are not actually boxes; you earn your reward by defeating a unique opponent... one who happens to be very hard to defeat. And you only get limited tries before your hard-earned currency goes away and leaves you with nothing. Good luck!
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ allows you to purchase 'Capsules' which contain a number of Palette Swaps for the fighters, in-game avatars, and titles. Although these can be purchased with real currency their contents are entirely cosmetic and have no bearing whatsoever on the gameplay itself.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Team Fortress 2 is the Trope Codifier of this, with the Mann Co. Supply Crates.
  • Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) was infamous for this; despite being a paid full game, the game still contained these, and among other things (such as having things from the first game locked behind paywalls), this got the game hit with serious Internet Backdraft, and EA's attempt to defend this on Reddit netted them the lowest rated post in the site's history. Even worse for the developers, the game would end up investigated by Belgium, Australia, and parts of the UK for containing gambling elements.
  • Overwatch has loot boxes that are obtained after earning a level, though they can be purchased in bulk. Each one contains four hero-based items (all of which are aesthetic) or gold coins. Any duplicates will be converted to coins, which can be used to purchase the items directly. Notably, It's also the first game to directly call this trope by the name of "loot boxes".
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive features these, which drop weapon skins (one per crate). Third-party sites used to be able to manipulate the odds of dropping high-level skins and such, and it led to a rather large controversy when it was discovered that some of these third-party sites were a) involved in legitimate gambling incidents, and b) manipulating the odds to sell their site, but then making it literally impossible to get high-level drops by turning the high-level drops to 0%.

    Idle Games 
  • Downplayed with Zombidle: Chests contain three items (only one of which can be chosen per chest) of variable usefulness. While they're mostly obtained by defeating bosses and reset after every run, they can be crafted in exchange for white orbs (which are obtained at the end of every run), which can also be bought in exchange for diamonds (the only currency that can be purchased for real money, though there's plenty of ways to earn them in-game).
  • A non-paid example from Anti-Idle: The Game comes the various boxes/crates. These can be gained a number of ways, but usually you can buy them with your coins.

    MMORP Gs 
  • Realm of the Mad God has the Mystery boxes, available in the nexus and can be bought using Realm Gold (or rarely fame during special events). Usually, Set-Tiered items are given away in these (which players can trade), but other items can be given away from them.
  • ZT Online is the Ur-Example of a loot box in the traditional sense.
  • Elsword:
    • The "Ice Burner" from the Item Mall. Their contents range from a number of rare consumables, to a lot of crafting materials, and their "grand prize", a set of costume equipments that not only look cool but also enhances your characters further.
    • There are also a lot of other "cubes/boxes" in the game that contains varying kinds of loots, some less random than others, such as boxes that contains equipments from Secret Dungeons or boxes containing equipments from bosses from certain regions.
  • Runescape has the Treasure Hunter "minigame" which offers you some free chests with money, bonus experience, or other goods inside once per day, but the option to purchase more with real money. Added to the mix were legitimate Loot Crates, which only further muddied things up and drew the ire of several players as the Battlefront II controversy started to go down.
  • Pokémon Go features Eggs and Incubators. The former are randomly given from Poke Stops (one per Stop, up to a maximum of nine) and come available in three different types. The latter are what are used to hatch Eggs, and can only be earned in large numbers by using real money. Once the Egg is being incubated, it does not hatch instantly like other examples of loot boxes. The player must walk during the incubation process to hatch the Egg, which can take from two to ten kilometers depending on the egg's color. Pokemon hatched from eggs have a far greater chance of having high IV's, while those hatched from 10km eggs having the potential to hatch into rarer Pokemon.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Mega Man Battle Network: The Chip Trader machine works like a gacha, with a twist: you have to insert 3 (or 10 for the better version of the trader) Battle Chips into it, and then the trader will give you one random Battle Chip, usually of the (relatively) higher quality. The 10-Chip Trader predictably gives better chips than the 3-chip one. Then there's the Bug Frag Chip Trader, which requires you to insert 10 Bug Frags instead; they give even better chips than any normal Chip Trader, but Bug Frags are quite harder to farm than Battle Chips.

    Sports 
  • All of EA Sports' games feature this in some way in their "Ultimate Team" mechanic, which involves packs of "cards" and "contracts", where the cards feature players, and the contracts are the amount of games that you can play with them before they disappear. Card packs can be earned manually, but can also be purchased in bulk.
  • Rocket League features crates that can drop car skins, car bodies, wheel skins, goal explosions, etc. Their claim to fane, however, was that during the Hallowe'en and Christmas special seasons, they sold "Decryptors" that could only be purchased with in-game, non-buyable currency, and these decryptors would open any lootcrate (with the same odds as usual) and the inside object would be treated as a holiday item (non-tradeable to other players) but able to be traded in with other such items in exchange for a rarer one.

    Third Person Shooters 
  • Splatoon 2 has the rare non-paid example in the form of the bonuses you get rewarded with in Salmon Run, which are obtained every 100 points. Usually, these just contain things such as coins, tickets for Crusty Sean's food, or the occasional Grizzco. equipment items (which are no different from any other equipment items).

    Wide Open Sandboxes 
  • Minecraft parodied these with the locked chests in Beta 1.6, as part of an April Fools Joke. Randomly spawning in new portions of the world, attempting to open them would result in a pop-up to open a "Steve Co. Supply Crate", and lead you to a page to "buy" content from the in-game store. Attempting to do so resulted in a Jump Scare from a dinosaur, followed by an "April fools!" message in comic sans. Eventually, the prank was over, and the Locked Chests were set to decay like leaves, but the item data presisted, Dummied Out for nearly 3 years before their ID was replaced with stained glass, effectively killing them for good.

    Other Games 
  • The Parody/Deconstruction Game I Can't Believe It's Not Gambling lampoons the overuse of loot boxes in its contemporary titles by discarding all gameplay mechanics except loot boxes (you cannot spend real money on them, however), as a statement on what games would be like if loot boxes were really what players wanted.
  • PokeFarm Q has the boxes, which will contain random items like berries, treasure that can be sold, evolution items, or even rare items like Mega Evolution stones or Legendary Pokemon summon items. The chances of what items you get are explicitly stated in a pop-up menu. You can find regular boxes while doing Scour missions, but you can also buy boxes that contain other boxes with money. The Box Box which contains 21 regular boxes, the Box Box Box which contains 5 Box Boxes, and the Gragon's Stash which contains 5 Box Box Boxes. For ease of trade, you can also pack 21 regular boxes into a Box Box.
    • Flat-out defied with "Grab Bag" threads—essentially, threads members of the community would own in the trade forums where they would be able to gamble in-game items, Pokemon, or other sorts of things. Eventually, after the staff saw complaints about possible scamming, and ran a poll. Afterwards, Grab Bag threads were effectively banned, and paying to enter a raffle was also banned so nobody could loophole by calling them anything else.


What? Expecting a stinger? That's a rare drop from the Trope Co. Supply Crate; keep looking.

Feedback: 77 replies

Jan 1st 2018 at 8:45:37 PM

If anyone can think of more examples, please let me know!

Jan 2nd 2018 at 7:46:14 AM

  • Overwatch has loot boxes that are obtained after earning a level, though they can be purchased in bulk. Each one contains four hero-based items (all of which are aesthetic) or gold coins. Any duplicates will be converted to coins, which can be used to purchase the items directly.

Jan 2nd 2018 at 9:12:35 AM

The Battlefront II example should be rewritten to be less complainy. Also here's another example:

  • Battlerite has multiple varieties of Chests that can be bought or earned by levelling up your profile and Champions. Their contents are purely cosmetic aside from one example:
    • Silver chests are bought with Battlecoins, the currency used to unlock new Champions.
    • Gold chests are bought with the premium currency, Gems, and contain at least one Epic quality item. you get two quests per week that award one Gold chest each.
    • Legendary chests contain at least one Legendary quality item. They can only be earned by completing certain objectives.
    • Event chests are only available for a limited time and contain event-exclusive items. They come in two versions: a basic version that replaces Silver chests, and a premium version that contains at least one non-duplicate item (so opening enough of these chests guarantees you will have all event items).
    • Special chests are available when a new Champion is released, and guarantee that you will get said Champion's Legendary items.
    • The Champion chest unlocks one new playable Champion (the only non-cosmetic thing you can get from Chests). You can only get one from completing the tutorial.

Jan 2nd 2018 at 12:38:48 PM

@Someoneman: Problem with the Battlefront II thing is that it's kinda hard to discuss the trope's existence in the game without bringing up the Internet Backlash it had; especially when Australia and Belgium's governments got involved in a way that could spell a shift in the world of gaming itself. If someone can write a better version, I'd be all for it! But I'm not quite sure how to do one myself.

Jan 2nd 2018 at 2:08:06 PM

Huge in Japan, where they're referred to as "gacha games" (after the capsule toy machines).

According to the Wikipedia article on lootboxes, the first example was ZT Online in 2007, three years before TF2 introduced them. Dragon Collection was in the same year as TF 2 and may also predate it.

EDIT: Doing a Google search for results in 2011 and earlier, I can't be sure how accurate the results are, but Elemental Knights Online might have introduced a gacha system in 2007. I'd say pinning down a lot of the earlier examples is going to be difficult.

Daisoudatsu Legend Card received an English translation in November 2011 and was active in March of that year, though I didn't find much info on its format. From the same site, the earliest use I could find of "gacha" was in November 2011, but it's spoken of as something well-established.

Jan 2nd 2018 at 2:57:02 PM

Downplayed with Zombidle: Chests contain three items (only one of which can be chosen per chest) of variable usefulness. While they're mostly obtained by defeating bosses and reset after every run, they can be crafted in exchange for white orbs (which are obtained at the end of every run), which can also be bought in exchange for diamonds (the only currency that can be purchased for real money, though there's plenty of ways to earn them in-game).

Jan 2nd 2018 at 3:48:13 PM

I've added some folders. If there's any improperly sorted items, feel free to tell me.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 2:13:22 AM

  • Examples section
    • Moved the General examples to the Description as per How To Write An Example - Examples Are Not General.
    • Deleted the General folder.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 2:43:25 AM

Also a subtrope of Mystery Box, I guess?

If anyone is interested in the murky origins of the contemporary EA-style lootboxes, a.k.a. "the Wilson Lootbox", check out this investigation by Skill Up. This may be added to the description, or maybe as a Discussed Trope example in a new "Other Media" folder...

  • The Parody/Deconstruction Game I Can't Believe It's Not Gambling lampoons the overuse of loot boxes in its contemporary titles by discarding all gameplay mechanics except loot boxes (you cannot spend real money on them, however), as a statement on what games would be like if loot boxes were really what players wanted.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 6:42:53 PM

Anyone else have any additional examples, page quotes, image suggestions, and that sort of thing?

If not, I don't think we need to worry too much given that we can always add those after launching, but it'd certainly get this trope off the ground faster.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 6:49:50 PM

Should we have an additional trope for gacha pulls?

Jan 4th 2018 at 12:57:37 AM

Do Card Battle Games, Trading Card Games and Collectible Card Games count as these? Their card packs are lootboxes as described.

Jan 4th 2018 at 4:37:50 AM

  • Elsword:
    • The "Ice Burner" from the Item Mall. Their contents range from a number of rare consumables, to a lot of crafting materials, and their "grand prize", a set of costume equipments that not only look cool but also enhances your characters further.
    • There are also a lot of other "cubes/boxes" in the game that contains varying kinds of loots, some less random than others, such as boxes that contains equipments from Secret Dungeons or boxes containing equipments from bosses from certain regions.
  • A gacha system exists in Get Amped; some of the gacha uses the in-game money, some others use real-life ones. The gacha can give you either multiple copies of weapons, enhancement cards, or powerful accessories, the latter of which being the higher grade prizes.
  • Kantai Collection has it in form of (Large) Ship Constructions. There, you issue an order to make a new ship girl, the results of which are random. The girls appropriately have "rarity grades" that signifies the chances of them being made. Constructing new ships simply requires the in-game resources as payment, but the building time tend to be long (especially for Large version).

Jan 4th 2018 at 5:38:15 AM

@azul: Given gacha games are effectively the same, but slightly different, I don't think a new trope for them is in order, at least not yet.

@Theharbo: I wouldn't say so, personally, but of course, someone might need to check for a consensus on that.

Jan 4th 2018 at 7:33:12 AM

MMORPGs

  • Runescape has the Treasure Hunter "minigame" which offers you some free chests with money, bonus experience, or other goods inside once per day, but the option to purchase more with real money. Added to the mix were legitimate Loot Crates, which only further muddied things up and drew the ire of several players as the Battlefront II controversy started to go down.

First-Person Shooters

  • Counter Strike: Global Offensive features these, which drop weapon skins (one per crate). Third-party sites used to be able to manipulate the odds of dropping high-level skins and such, and it led to a rather large controversy when it was discovered that some of these third-party sites were a) involved in legitimate gambling incidents, and b) manipulating the odds to sell their site, but then making it literally impossible to get high-level drops by turning the high-level drops to 0%.

Sports

  • All of EA Sports' games feature this in some way in their "Ultimate Team" mechanic, which involves packs of "cards" and "contracts", where the cards feature players, and the contracts are the amount of games that you can play with them before they disappear. Card packs can be earned manually, but can also be purchased in bulk.
  • Rocket League features crates that can drop car skins, car bodies, wheel skins, goal explosions, etc. Their claim to fane, however, was that during the Hallowe'en and Christmas special seasons, they sold "Decryptors" that could only be purchased with in-game, non-buyable currency, and these decryptors would open any lootcrate (with the same odds as usual) and the inside object would be treated as a holiday item (non-tradeable to other players) but able to be traded in with other such items in exchange for a rarer one.

Jan 4th 2018 at 8:01:06 AM

^^^^ Lootboxes are the electronic equivalent of booster packs in Collectible Card Games. Card Battle Games don't count unless you can pay for booster packs with real money. Random Drop is also related.

Also, the description mentions "some countries may take legal action against lootboxes in future" as a major point in their history, but doesn't mention any of the countries that already did that.

Suggested for inclusion:

The first clear examples of this mechanic are the Chinese ZT Online (2007) and Canadian FIFA 09 (2008). In The Far East it would soon come to dominate the mobile and browser gaming markets, where it's referred to as "gacha" after the capsule toy machines. In the West, the concept was codified in 2010 (which saw both Team Fortress 2's "Supply Crates" update and a number of gacha games being translated into English), but it would not become ubiquitous until Overwatch's "loot boxes" in 2016.

Should probably include something about the distinction between Cosmetic Lootboxes like Overwatch and what that video calls "Wilson Lootboxes" that are Pay-to-Win, and how the former are better-received.

Jan 4th 2018 at 8:04:34 AM

^^

  • "Loot boxes are, simply put, boxes of loot. More specifically, randomized (and often sometimes rare) loot."
    • Card Packs Definitely fits the description here
  • "More specifically, however, these are loot boxes not dropped along with your average random loot drops, and are usually obtained by other methods"
    • The main method of getting card packs is buying them with money. I say main because, to use a well-known example, Hearthstone allows any player to obtain card packs at a rapid speed if they're good enough in certain game modes.
    • Overall, I would also despute the 'Not dropped along with your average random loot drops' - that rules out Team Fortress 2, quite possibly the Trope Codifier.
  • "with a popular one being paying for some in the hopes of getting some of the better loot."
    • Card packs in a nutshell. Junk Rare is a trope for a reason.
  • "Note, however, that not all loot boxes will be unlocked via payments; however, expect that to be very rare."
    • Again. Card Battle Games usually have a way to earn card packs at a reduced rate without buying them.
  • "Slowly becoming a Discredited Trope as more and more gamers are fed up with their presence, and with countries such as Australia and Belgium going as far as to investigate Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) for containing "gambling" in the form of lootboxes, which would actually break the trope for them."
    • This entirely depends on how lootboxes are handled. Take Team Fortress 2. Barely anyone minds the random crate drops because they don't detract from the number of random drops you get per week, and —except for ridiculously garish hats which is more of a gameplay detriment than anything else— everything else can be bought on the store.

I've made my case for card packs being lootboxes, I also feel a good deal of this trope is in need of some rewriting - While it is true that lootboxes fall prey to Sturgeons Law, we should also remember that there are legitimate reasons for this trope to exist. Can you imagine if a Trading Card Game-dealer had to stock every single card instead of a box of card packs?

Jan 4th 2018 at 8:28:18 AM

An interesting cultural note: even when mechanically identical, lootboxes are more often presented as "something you get for free, but you can also pay for more of them", and gacha pulls as "something you pay for, but you can also get some for free".

Jan 4th 2018 at 8:29:59 AM

I've added some of the content, but now I'm thinking we may need to trim down some content within the trope's introduction, or think about if we wish to split it off into a possible analysis or useful notes page that describes in detail the history of loot boxes.

Jan 5th 2018 at 4:07:03 AM

^ I agree the trope could use some cleaning up in the description. How about this?

Loot boxes are, simply put, boxes containing multiple pieces of loot. More specifically, randomized (and often sometimes rare) loot. The first clear examples of this mechanic are the Chinese ZT Online (2007) and Canadian FIFA 09 (2008). In The Far East it would soon come to dominate the mobile and browser gaming markets. In the West, the concept was codified in 2010 (which saw both Team Fortress 2's "Supply Crates" update and a number of gacha games being translated into English), but it would not become ubiquitous until Overwatch's "loot boxes" in 2016.

Japan refers to these as "gacha games", after toy capsule machines of the same name. Surprisingly enough, they're really popular there, in spite of the backlash these get in other counties. where they serve as a point of contention due to many allegedly free games which have hidden real and tangible ways of Bribing Your Way To Victory behind this randomized method of aquisition, with countries such as Australia and Belgium investigating whether or not a lootbox-driven system should be regulated as gambling - something China, Japan, and the Isle of Man already do.

Your Mileage May Vary on whether lootboxes are a detriment: While a lot of Alledgedly Free Games use them as a Paper Thin Disguise to hide that they allow Bribing Your Way To Victory, some games allow them to be earned freely, some have the lootboxes only contain Cosmetic Awards, some allow the purchase of items contained inside them through other means, and some have the lootbox acquisition be parallel to just playing the game and not dropped along with your average random loot drops, and some utilize lootboxes as their only way of monetising a Free To Play model. It's the vast difference in business models surrounding lootboxes that has made the general public sceptical of them, considering that one lootbox system may be wildly different to another despite appearing to be the same on the surface.

The paid version of these is a sub-trope to Microtransactions, though the tropes are not mutual as some instances of loot boxes are not paid for. A sub-trope of Mystery Box. Mutually related to the Random Drop.

Jan 5th 2018 at 5:37:36 AM

The laconic could use some cleanup; in its current state it can be interpreted as saying that loot boxes are strictly a form of Bribing Your Way To Victory when this isn't always the case. (E.g., TF 2's non-cosmetic items have a drawback for every bonus, so new/free players won't be at a disadvantage, at least in theory.)

Jan 7th 2018 at 11:18:06 AM

Implemented the new opening + revised the laconic. Anything else, or should we launch?

Jan 8th 2018 at 2:57:12 AM

^ I say it's good to launch, though it does need indices. Dug up a few quickly.

Jan 8th 2018 at 4:38:19 AM

Alright! Anybody else have any other things to potentially add?

Jan 8th 2018 at 6:49:43 AM

Loot boxes are, simply put, boxes containing multiple pieces of loot. More specifically, randomized (and often sometimes rare) loot. The first clear examples of this mechanic are the Chinese ZT Online (2007) and Canadian FIFA 09 (2008). In The Far East it would soon come to dominate the mobile and browser gaming markets. In the West, the concept was codified in 2010 (which saw both Team Fortress 2's "Supply Crates" update and a number of gacha games being translated into English), but it would not become ubiquitous until Overwatch's "loot boxes" in 2016.

Japan refers to these as "gacha games", after toy capsule machines of the same name. Surprisingly enough, they're really popular there, in spite of the backlash these get in other counties.

Right now the description is saying "These dominate the market in Japan. Surprisingly, they're also popular in Japan. Japan objects to this model much less than the West. Japan objects to this model much more than the West, to the point of trying to ban it.". Also it uses the term "gacha" before explaining what that means, then says that "gacha game" is the name of the boxes themselves, and that it's a model that only exists in Japan despite the previous reference not being restricted to Japan.

Change to

In video games a "loot box" is, simply put, a box containing one or more pieces of loot. More specifically, randomized (and often sometimes rare) loot. While they can take the form of actual boxes within the game world which the Player Character picks up, loot boxes tend to have an abstract component - they're often obtained and/or accessed from the game's menu system outside of gameplay (a process that can include Microtransations), and their "contents" aren't limited to physical items but can include insubstantials like new classes or skins.

The first clear examples of this mechanic are the Chinese ZT Online (2007) and Canadian FIFA 09 (2008). In The Far East it would soon come to dominate the mobile and browser gaming markets, where it's known as "gacha" after the toy capsule machines. In the West, the concept was codified in 2010 (which saw both Team Fortress 2's "Supply Crates" update and a number of gacha games being translated into English), but it would not become ubiquitous until Overwatch's "loot boxes" in 2016.

and remove the Japan paragraph.

Jan 8th 2018 at 8:30:37 AM

Done and done. Odds are, people are sick of me asking, but I want to be absolutely certain; anybody got anything else, or is it safe to launch?

Jan 10th 2018 at 1:40:54 AM

The YMMV paragraph is a bit of a run-on sentence. I'd suggest breaking it up a bit.

Jan 10th 2018 at 9:58:39 AM

I think I should type in a bit about ZT Online's case when I go back home. My knowledge is that they actually stopped having loot boxes since 2009 as China banned "bare" loot boxes.

Jan 10th 2018 at 12:49:55 PM

Do games like Fate Grand Order and Fire Emblem Heroes fall under this? Main part of their games are summoning random characters with in game currency, with an option to obtain more in-game currency with real money?

Jan 10th 2018 at 2:59:13 PM

^ Those are gacha games, yes.

Jan 10th 2018 at 3:09:29 PM

If gacha games count, then Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Blazing should too...

Jan 10th 2018 at 3:42:20 PM

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a non-paid version of this as its main way of obtaining new Blades. Other than the handful you get from the main story and side quests, obtaining new Blades means summoning a random one for one of your party members using a Core Crystal. You can either get a generic common Blade, which generally lose their usefulness quickly, or the much better and more unique Rare Blades. As everything from Field Skills to Mercenary Missions to the classes available to each of your party members depends on what Blades the player has (and which character they're locked to), your luck with the draw will play a big hand in shaping your playthrough.

Jan 10th 2018 at 8:29:29 PM

I recommend the ZT Online entry to be changed to this:

  • ZT Online, a Chinese MMORPG which entered public beta on 21 April 2006 with this as an inaugural feature, is the Ur Example for this trope. In this game, boxes are obtained as plunder but each box requires a key that costs 1 yuan (one-sixth of an US dollar) to open. Under governmental pressure, its use of loot boxes ended on 26 June, 2009

Jan 11th 2018 at 2:12:28 AM

I notice the booster pack mention under card games was deleted. Any reason for that?

Jan 11th 2018 at 4:21:34 AM

@GoldenDarkness - That seems like a downplayed or indirect example. I don't know if those are worth including, though, especially in cases where the currency is more than easy to obtain.

@Malady - Only if they're treated as them in-universe.

@Theharbo - I didn't remove it, technically. However, I commented them out, mainly because they could also be considered physical in the case of things such as real card games, and this is mainly for digital, video game examples.

Jan 11th 2018 at 5:32:51 AM

^ If we keep this to being a Video Game Trope, that still leaves the many examples of Card Battle Games which use the booster-pack model because the Card Battle Game genre is a digital translation of the Collectible Card Game.

Jan 14th 2018 at 10:06:30 AM

Bump, but I'd like to say something. I'd like to do a poll on if we keep or don't keep Card Game examples, and as a result, the booster pack example. I think the best way would be one of those crowners, but I don't know how to set one up. If anyone can make one... Please do so, I think a crowner would be best suited for this.

Jan 14th 2018 at 10:22:32 PM

  • Mega Man Battle Network: The Chip Trader machine works like a gacha, with a twist: you have to insert 3 (or 10 for the better version of the trader) Battle Chips into it, and then the trader will give you one random Battle Chip, usually of the (relatively) higher quality. The 10-Chip Trader predictably gives better chips than the 3-chip one. Then there's the Bug Frag Chip Trader, which requires you to insert 10 Bug Frags instead; they give even better chips than any normal Chip Trader, but Bug Frags are quite harder to farm than Battle Chips.

Jan 17th 2018 at 1:59:30 PM

Bump; that crowner works. Currently there's 1 vote for keeping that example and 1 vote against keeping that example.

Jan 18th 2018 at 1:35:06 AM

^^ One more contra point: CCG booster packs always contain things of unquestionable market value, i.e. physical cards, because these are a) physical, b) usually limited in number, c) can be exchanged or otherwise traded with fellow enthusiasts freely, establishing a market valuation independent of the publisher. Loot boxes do none of these things, since their contents are a) virtual, b) can be theoretically given to every past, current, and future player by simply copying a few files, and c) normally restricted to the account that purchased them (there are exceptions, of course, but these tend to be heavily policed by the publishers). What this means is that a booster pack always increases the value of your deck by some amount (even if only after trades with other players), while a loot box adds no value to your game in cases when you have already paid for all of its content, but are prevented from accessing it until a loot box "unlocks" it.

Jan 18th 2018 at 2:18:47 PM

About that crowner: Should we wait for a time deadline (wait until X time, and if the score's positive we keep it, if the score's negative we don't keep it, if the score's even we wait for a tiebreaker), or wait for a certain number goal to be reached (like totalling 5 or -5)? I think we should wait until a specific time (a good time I could track would be January 20th, at 3PM EST), but if you have any other ideas, let me know—and don't forget to vote on that crowner!.

Jan 19th 2018 at 3:18:30 AM

Time limit is the best option. You may want to set it to, say, Sunday evening to give everyone enough time to vote, and make it clear in the description of the crowner itself. Also, add something along the lines of "[Scope Crowner]" to the TLP title to let people know their input is needed, even if they are just browsing the main list.

Jan 19th 2018 at 3:44:22 AM

The description is rather rambling, since it starts out talking about in-game loot boxes that are included wholly in-game, and then switches over that some loot boxes may require some out-of-game interaction. After that, it only seems to concern itself with the out-of-band type.

The laconic is also unclear on which type is meant, and also include to wholly superfluous "rare".

"Tend to have an abstract component" is just gibberish, it would be better to look for one of the existing terms used under Gameplay And Story Segregation.

Jan 19th 2018 at 6:20:25 AM

^^^^ What of the Booster Packs that Card Battle Games use, then? They are Virtual, can be theoretically given to every past, current, and future player by simply copying a few files, and normally restricted to the account that purchased them.

Jan 20th 2018 at 10:59:44 AM

@kjnoren - I don't really know a way to fix the "rambling description", so if anyone can help pen one, be my guest.

Jan 20th 2018 at 11:13:51 AM

Cut out unnecessary words?

In video games, a "loot box" is, simply put, a box containing one or more pieces of loot. More specifically, randomized (and often sometimes rare) loot. While they can take the form of actual boxes within the game world which the Player Character picks up, loot boxes tend to have an abstract component (that is to say, they're not necessarily boxes in the actual game universe) - they're often obtained and/or accessed from the game's menu system outside of gameplay (a process that can include Microtransactions), and their "contents" aren't limited to physical items but can include insubstantials like new classes or skins.

To:

In video games, a "loot box" is a container with randomized, possibly rare loot. They may be actual boxes within the game world which the Player Character picks up, but usually are an abstract component, instead of boxes in the actual game universe. They're often gotten from the game's menu system outside of gameplay (a process that can include Microtransactions), and their "contents" aren't limited to physical items but can include insubstantials like new classes or skins.


Problem: First sentence makes it seem like all Inexplicable Treasure Chests are also loot boxes. Are they? ... This trope is about the profit-generators only, no?

I think we might really need to stick a differentiation from Inexplicable Treasure Chests as the first sentence?

Jan 20th 2018 at 11:37:10 AM

@Malady: Thing is, Inexplicable Treasure Chests is "how did that treasure chest end up there?", while Loot Boxes are generally either solidly rooted in logic (they're literal boxes) or metaphysical and don't need to be explicitly existent (this is how a loot box that's from a microtransaction store often works). They're not really related except for boxes, and so I guess if we have a box index, we can put the two there...?

Jan 20th 2018 at 11:40:17 AM

^ - Whoops! ... I meant the idea of... Containers with randomized loot. Like in the VideoGame.The Elder Scrolls, VideoGame.Bioshock, VideoGame.Mass Effect, etc.

Jan 20th 2018 at 11:56:11 AM

@Malady - Usually that's just implied with Random Loot in general, that of course there's probably a chest or a bag it drops into and that's how you get it. This trope is when there's dedicated items containing them and a dedicated method to obtaining them that is unlike most other random drops in the game... which is usually paying.

If that doesn't make sense, I apologize, I'm kinda fuzzy today.

Jan 20th 2018 at 1:45:35 PM

@Camwood: I'm going to assume that this is limited to the paid (in some way) loot boxes here; I also think this should receive a better name than the proposed one. It should possibly also have a redirect from gacha (as a pre-existing name).

A loot box is a Mystery Box that requires some out-of-gameplay action to purchase. The action might be an actual monetary transaction, watching some ad, recommending the game to a friend, or some other action that involves the player in some capacity taking a non-gameplay action. The contents of a loot box can be both gameplay items or include new classes or gameplay skins.

The first clear examples of this mechanic are the Chinese ZT Online (2007) and Canadian FIFA 09 (2008). In The Far East it would soon come to dominate the mobile and browser gaming markets, where it's known as "gacha" after the toy capsule machines.

Paid loot boxes are contentious since it can be seen as a way of Bribing Your Way To Victory, and this randomized method of aquisition is viewed as gambling and regulated as such by countries some countries (like China and Japan).

Jan 20th 2018 at 2:20:14 PM

By the way, the while the gacha games may be regulated nowadays in China and Japan, they're still massively popular there, so calling this trope "broken" there is dead wrong.

@Kjnoren

A loot box is a Mystery Box that requires some out-of-gameplay action to purchase. The action might be an actual monetary transaction, watching some ad, recommending the game to a friend, or some other action that involves the player in some capacity taking a non-gameplay action.

Does it have to be? Some of the examples I propose require in-game resources that can be acquired through normal gameplay.

Jan 20th 2018 at 2:36:21 PM

I think a split of two types might be good, though a split of the trope altogether wouldn't be necessary. One for "paid" examples obtained by microtransactions, ads, and other stuff like that, and one for "non-paid" examples that you can obtain through other means. We do something similar for other tropes.

Jan 20th 2018 at 6:19:09 PM

^ You mean a "soft-split".

I don't think that's necessary either, but maybe in case of people wanting to know that loot boxes can be free (i.e not involving your real money or doing out-of-the-game stuff)...

Jan 21st 2018 at 9:44:19 AM

Huh... Think we should do another crowner about that sorta thing?

(Also, at this point the one crowner is pretty solidly sitting at 1 yes and 3 no votes, at a -2 as to consider booster packs loot boxes, so I say we just say we don't include that at this point).

Jan 22nd 2018 at 10:22:55 AM

Bump bump beeb beeb

Also, at this point it's past sunday evening and the crowner is still against adding the booster pack example. At this point, I'm not including it.

Jan 23rd 2018 at 8:26:44 AM

A few more things to do, if nothing else:

  • The ZT Online is a zero-context example in the trope list... When it's our Ur Example.
  • POSSIBLY think of a page quote or page image?

Jan 23rd 2018 at 6:33:39 PM

^ I have made a writeup in an earlier reply.

Jan 23rd 2018 at 6:59:51 PM

I'm sorry, but what exactly is the storytelling thing here? How is this used In Universe? This article seems to be a Useful Note about loot boxes.

Jan 23rd 2018 at 7:28:40 PM

@Water Blap - Tropes aren't required to be linked to storytelling, you know. It's the entire reason there's Gameplay And Story Segregation.

Jan 25th 2018 at 3:44:28 AM

^^^^^ In regards to the booster pack debate, I'd be hesitant to take the crowner at face value due to the comment from Koveras above seperating virtual and physical booster packs. I am still waiting for an answer as to what the difference between virtual booster packs and lootboxes are from him.

At the current point I will agree that physical booster packs aren't lootboxes, but the virtual ones? I have yet to find a single thing that differentiates them.

Jan 27th 2018 at 9:15:57 AM

Bump. I'd say we consider if we wanna add anything else before launching—page quote, page image, that sort of thing.

@Theharbo - Most people agreed here that we don't consider booster packs as loot boxes—in fact, in the thread, you've literally been the only guy that has been posting about considering them as such, and the one vote for considering them as such from the crowner leads me to think you were the only one to vote as such. Odds are, we're not including them—virtual or non-virtual.

Jan 27th 2018 at 2:27:03 PM

^ Then by all means, explain why the virtual ones aren't. Resulting to Ad Hominem solves nothing. What is the difference between a Loot Box containing multiple pieces of gear and a booster pack containing multiple cards.

Is it in the acquisition? How the contents are used? What the contents are?

Otherwise it's going to end up in a Distinction Without A Difference - as the trope is written right now, it is, and I quote:

  • 'A container with randomized, possibly rare loot' = A pack with randomized, possibly rare cards.
  • They may be actual boxes within the game world which the Player Character picks up, but usually are an abstract component, instead of boxes in the actual game universe. They're often gotten from the game's menu system outside of gameplay (a process that can include Microtransactions) = Card packs are bought outside the matches.
  • Their "contents" aren't limited to physical items but can include insubstantials like new classes or skins. = This line needs rewording. Nothing is 'physical' in a digital environment, and since you are aiming this trope to be purely Videogame-oriented, I'd suggest using 'gameplay-affecting'. Either way, Card booster packs certainly do include gameplay-affecting items.

So per the trope description card booster packs fulfill the three requirements as listed. Hence, I would like for you to explain, without resorting to attacks, why an example listing a game utilizing a booster pack system should not be listed, please.

Also, in case you haven't noticed: I'm playing the Devils Advocate here. I'd be all for Card Booster Packs being denied lootbox status, but as it is I don't see how the trope description discounts them.

Jan 27th 2018 at 9:19:54 PM

When you say "mutually related to the Random Drop" you mean that this trope is also a subtrope of Random Drop?

Not that Mystery Box is also a subtrope of Random Drop?

Also, it should be Random Loot instead of Random Drop 'cause Random Drop needs monster kills that drop loot?

If the laconic is "Random loot that comes from boxes", then those containers in Video Games I brought up earlier would also count, since bracketed things are seen as optional.

Rename to Paid Loot Boxes? Or something?

Jan 28th 2018 at 12:44:05 AM

^ Paid Loot Boxes would rule out definite examples like the Team Fortress 2 examples where the actual boxes are free, the keys to open them are not.

Jan 28th 2018 at 9:55:13 AM

  • Street Fighter V Arcade Edition has a variation: There are select challenges that require spending in-game currency to acquire more currency, EXP, or a unique costume. However, they are not actually boxes; you earn your reward by defeating a unique opponent... one who happens to be very hard to defeat. And you only get limited tries before your hard-earned currency goes away and leaves you with nothing. Good luck!

Jan 28th 2018 at 2:39:45 PM

They're related to the random drop in the sense that usually, loot boxes are a means to obtain them, if that makes sense. Random loot might also be a better descriptor, though I dunno exactly.

I don't honestly feel like changing the name by adding stuff like prefixes or suffixes is really necessary. Given the amount of different ways loot boxes can manifest—some aren't even available by paying, like the commission payments of Splatoon 2—it'd be a very easy way to derail into a Non Indicative Name, and get this trope sent to the Trope Repair Shop the very second it launches.

Jan 28th 2018 at 3:51:02 PM

Random Drop needs to be dropped from enemies. See PlayingWith.Random Drop.

This doesn't need that, this is about random contents in general, so its a Random Loot subtrope, not Random Drop.

See the Fallout example under its Role Playing Game. I need to get that description fixed from being so equipment focused.

Feb 8th 2018 at 6:20:53 AM

Bump. I fixed the Random Drop thing, gonna add that Street Fighter example shortly. Also, to prevent anything funny when it's launched, I put a reminder in comments not to add booster packs due to the crowner. ANYTHING else we wanna do before launching?

Feb 9th 2018 at 12:04:01 AM

^ The comment approach is a good way to get around accidentally having others add booster pack examples which fit the trope description. I've added the reason for the decision in the comment.

Would really like to hear from the person who threw the bomb. But there's a good chance it was either a bot or someone on a downvote spree. So I say Just Launch It Already

Feb 9th 2018 at 12:00:51 AM

Oh, and a final example:

  • Dragonball Fighterz allows you to purchase 'Capsules' which contain a number of Palette Swaps for the fighters, in-game avatars, and titles. Although these can be purchased with real currency their contents are entirely cosmetic and have no bearing whatsoever on the gameplay itself.

Mar 7th 2018 at 4:53:47 PM

Let me change this up. From what I know, real money is not involved with Dragon Ball Fighter Z at all. The in-game currency "Zeni" is used to buy normal loot boxes, with duplicates giving you "Premium Z Coins", which is then used for a special box which contains a non-duplicate item for you.

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