In This New Game All You Do Is Open Loot Boxes

The loot box craze in online gaming has reached insane levels, so it seems only natural for a developer to make the ingenious decision to release a title that’s a parody of loot boxes. That game is the snappily titled, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gambling.

What Are Loot Boxes?

If you have not experienced the phenomenon of loot boxes online then you are probably unaware of what they are. Loot boxes are a consumable virtual item that can be redeemed to reward players with a gift from a selection of potential prize items.

The first loot boxes started appearing back in 2007 when mass multi-player online role-playing games became popular. The monetization of freeplay mobile games has also increased the prevalence of loot boxes and the younger generation of gamers are more than used to this type of game mechanic now.

Loot boxes have been continually linked with controversy over recent years though. Some developers are now being directly criticized for allowing players under the legal gambling age to access loot boxes, when critics have labelled them as a form of gambling.

A loot box from the game Overwatch
Image Credit: dotesports.com

At the end of last year, an interview with UK Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller saw the topic of loot boxes discussed. Miller stated that the situation will continue to be monitored but that the authority currently has no plans to officially label loot boxes as a form of gambling.

UK Gambling Commission Executive Director Tim Miller
Image Credit: linkedin.com

Satirical Games: It’s Funny Cos It’s True

Enter Mutant Entertainment Studios, who have now launched the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gambling game on the Steam marketplace.

The concept of the game is to allow players to enjoy the pleasure of opening loot boxes without having to trawl through all the boring game play to earn the loot box rewards. It’s basically loot boxes for lazy people.

In a further dig at the format of loot boxes, the developer emphasizes the fact that this game is targeted at players that want to win things they don’t necessarily want.

One of the biggest downsides to loot boxes is the random nature of them, which means players often have to earn points to open loot boxes that then reward them with items they don’t even have any use or desire for.

One of the amusing lines in the game’s synopsis is where the developer claims that players can, “skate legal and ethical lines”. This is a nod to the ambiguous stance that certain gambling authorities have taken on loot boxes.

The final jab at the unpopular boxes is where the synopsis also reads, “remember kids, it’s only a game so grab your parents’ credit cards!”.

What Do the Players Say?

The official logo of Steam, a digital distribution platform
Image Credit: phys.org

Players of the new game were quick to take to social media and air their opinions on it. This edgy approach to gaming predictably drew mixed reviews from those that had played it. Here are some of their comments…

“I understand the game is satire, and that it appears to be protest, but the developer is still charging for this game. This game that protests against loot boxes is making money off of loot boxes, if that isn’t at least a little icky to gamers then I don’t know what to say.” – Reddit User: Yazu13

“I bought it yesterday and after 3 hours and 750 opened lootboxes I completed the entire game and have all achievements but one (It’s called “Sense of Pride and Accomplishment” and it requires you to open 100,000 lootboxes. Very funny, but fuck that.) $1 for 3 hours of solid entertainment isn’t bad at all tbh.” – Reddit User: dexxstion

“I love that the overall reviews are “Very Positive”. Really adds to the atmospheric irony.” – Reddit User: kirakazumi

“This game is actually educational IMO. The game is a lootbox parody but it’s dupe values and gameplay values are both well within acceptable margins. They are tilted towards the player heavily. The worst possible roll returns 80% of your investment if all sold.” – Reddit User: Ralathar44

Is It Worth Playing: Overall Verdict

Everything that causes debate is open to satire these days. Donald Trump, Brexit, and loot boxes are all in that category of dividing opinion. It was only a matter of time before a developer saw an opportunity to make a satirical punch at the topic and here it is, that time has come.

The game is doing well with players, despite the fact it might seem a little depressing to some cynics that the game is essentially just further promoting loot boxes.

The reality is that when there is such little meaning to the rewards – to the extent that it feels like the game is actively trying to put you off playing it – you can only feel that this is certainly more of an anti-loot box game than anything else.