The History of Lootboxes

Loot boxes are a new kind of in-game item, and it’s not entirely clear why they are such a big deal. So why did they suddenly appear, and what do they do? This post will outline the history of the loot box, explain what it does, and how it works.

Have you ever wondered why Lootboxes are so controversial? They are a staple of video games in 2017, with the most popular games featuring them. We have a very mixed history with them, with some calling them “the future of monetization” while others call them a form of gambling.

If you’ve played video games for quite some time, you’ve probably noticed the trend in recent years of lootboxes—which can be found throughout all sorts of video games, not just games of chance—being criticized as a form of gambling. It’s no surprise that recent headlines have focused on the legal implications of lootboxes, but there’s a lot more to them than gambling. Lootboxes are actually a fascinating little piece of gaming history, and their recent resurgence has given us an opportunity to delve into the past and revisit how this curious little system came to be.

The Loot Box

The gaming industry’s love affair with loot boxes is old news, and the practice is on the verge of becoming a billion-dollar industry. So just how did the practice of giving players virtual items in video games come about?

For many gamers, the word “loot” elicits feelings of excitement and wonderment. Some loot boxes are earned by playing games, and others are purchased with real world money. With the popularity of games like Fortnite, Overwatch, and countless others, loot boxes have become an industry unto themselves.

An Evolution of Loot Boxes

Loot boxes have been around for years, as they’ve been a proven way to entice players with in-game rewards, but it wasn’t until recent years that they really took off. When they started hitting AAA titles, the gaming community began to protest, believing them to be unfair, unintuitive, and even deceptive. Fast forward to today, and loot boxes have grown to be a big part of the industry, and it’s only going to get larger.

You may have seen them in movies and heard them in video games, but loot boxes have become a central part of our entertainment experience in the last few years. While there’s been a lot of criticism about the practice, the bigger question is: why is it so popular?

What is the First Loot Box

Loot boxes have become quite the topic of controversy in the gaming industry in recent years. Some have claimed that taking part in them is a form of gambling, and I think we can all agree that gambling is never cool. Others have criticized loot boxes for their long-term financial impact on games, claiming that the speed of their release is a direct result of the money they make from the boxes.

The first loot boxes were not introduced in video games themselves but in trading card games. In the mid-90s, they were first used in the game Magic: The Gathering, then later in 1997’s Pokémon. In those days, it was only used to reward rare cards, which increased the value of those cards. In 2015, in the game Star Wars: Battlefront, the first game to use loot boxes to reward players directly, they were used to gain ‘Star Cards’ (magic spells) with which you could customize your player. As of 2018, the term loot box is now more commonly used to describe in-game items and rewards in video games that function similarly to those initially created for trading cards.

The Rise of Loot Boxes

The rise of loot boxes in games is a phenomenon that has been around for over a decade, but it is only in the last few years has its prevalence has become more widely known. What are loot boxes? Like other consumable items, video games may offer players the option of purchasing in-game content using real money. These items can range from digital currency to cosmetic skins, to multiplayer premium access, to virtual items that can only be acquired with real money. Loot boxes are essentially randomized boxes that appear in games when players buy a subscription at the cost of real money.

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