Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has always pushed various forms of microtransactions fairly heavily, but, until now, the game didn’t include loot boxes. Well, that’s changed, as the latest Black Ops 4 update has added paid loot boxes, called “Reserve Crates,” to the Black Market in-game shop.
Of course, not all loot boxes are created equal! So, how bad are Black Ops 4’s boxes? Pretty bad, unfortunately. Each crate costs 200 COD points (around $2) and contains three “cosmetic” items (we’ll get into why I put cosmetic in quotes in a second). Reserve Crates do not display probabilities or let you peek at what’s inside them, and yes, they contain duplicates.
In addition to purely cosmetic items like outfits, weapon camos, and warpaint, the boxes also contain “signature weapons.” These weapons are mostly just for show, but they also grant players extra XP, meaning they’re not purely cosmetic. Sure, signature weapons won’t directly help you kill somebody faster, but being able to gain XP more quickly is absolutely a gameplay advantage people will pay for. Some previously limited-time weapons, like Operation Absolute Zero’s Swat RFT rifle, are now exclusive to Reserve Crates as well. Again, Treyarch is skirting a very fine line here.
The addition of loot boxes to Black Ops 4 comes shortly after Activision Blizzard proclaimed they were performing “below potential,” and were planning changes to increase digital revenue. It’s not hard to put two and two together here. In addition to the game’s regular $60 price tag, Black Ops 4 also offers a $50 Black Ops Pass, paid “Special Order” battle passes, paid tier skips for the game’s regular Contraband battle passes, the ability to buy various cosmetic items individually, and now, loot boxes. It’s…a lot.
What do you think about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 adding loot boxes? What are your thoughts on the game’s approach to monetization in general?