When it was released earlier this year, Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s multiplayer included loot boxes, as did a number of other notable 2017 releases. It may come as little surprise then, that BioWare’s upcoming sci-fi RPG Anthem could also have loot boxes.
On Reddit, a prospective Anthem player wrote that they are “worried” about the potential for a “loot box economy” in the game. The fan pointed to the Star Wars Battlefront 2 pay to win controversy, saying that they feared that similar systems would be “shoehorned” in by Anthem‘s publisher, EA.
EA is said to favor open-world games like Anthem in order to push microtransactions, according to an ex-BioWare developer. Plus, EA publishes both Anthem and Star Wars Battlefront 2, and so the fan’s fears are understandable.
Responding to the thread, Anthem‘s creative director Brenon Holmes wrote, “I hear you. We’re talking a fair bit about this at the moment. I can’t really talk about it too much, but it’s an ongoing discussion.” Holmes then adds that, “a bunch of folks on the team have similar positions on monetization…so that perspective is definitely represented [in the debate].”
Holmes then detailed his own stance on the matter, saying that, “Personally I prefer games where the ratio is somewhat reasonable… ie: I can reasonably acquire currencies to purchase things through regular play.” The creative director also doesn’t like it “when some things are only available for premium purchase.”
Holmes’ comments touch upon some of the main concerns that players have with the way that loot boxes have been implemented in games. For example, Forza Motorsport 7‘s loot system was heavily criticized because fans felt that it was only engineered to make them grind. Likewise, fans feared that the loot boxes in Middle-earth: Shadow of War would heavily impact the single-player campaign.
As the developer notes, the conversation about whether BioWare’s next game will have loot boxes is ongoing. As such, there’s no guarantee that Anthem will feature that sort of business model or not.
However, Holmes’ replies should give some fans hope that if the game does include them, BioWare will make a concerted effort to ensure that they are implemented in the ‘right’ way. After all, it won’t just be fans who are disappointed if Anthem‘s loot boxes seem exploitative as there are developers on the team who would be disappointed too.
Anthem is currently scheduled to release sometime in the fall of 2018 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.