About a couple of months ago, Monolith and Warner Bros. Interactive revealed that Middle-earth: Shadow of War will feature a marketplace that allows players to use real world money to purchase loot boxes in-game that contain gear and XP boosts, which led to a plethora of dissatisfied fans online. Now, the forthcoming action-adventure title’s design director Bob Roberts has stepped forward in an attempt to defend the developer and publisher’s use of loot boxes in the release.
Roberts discussed the matter recently during a conversation he had with Eurogamer, in which Middle-earth: Shadow of War design director proclaimed that the inclusion of microtransactions “will not distract from the rest of [the game].” As a matter of fact, he even went so far as to say that balancing in the title will not be affected by pay-to-win scenarios, and he explained the development team has tuned the action-adventure game so that it works with our without them.
“We’re working our tails off to make this massive game and as a designer – the design director – I focus on balancing it. We do a ton of playtesting and make sure it is tuned to a setting where people can enjoy it. We kept all of the loot boxes and the economy of real world money turned off in playtesting so we know we are balancing around an experience which is rewarding without any of that stuff.”
Furthermore, Roberts maintains that loot boxes and XP boosts in Middle-earth: Shadow of War are going to be accessible at the discretion of the player, and that their inclusion in the game takes on the same design aesthetic as incorporating difficulty modes. According to the design director, for every player who won’t use them, there might be others out there who are “protective of their spare time” that might benefit from their inclusion in the game.
Roberts’ stance on loot boxes in Middle-earth: Shadow of War echoes the sentiments expressed by one of the game’s community managers when they attempted to explain the feature a while back, saying, “Gold exists for users who want to speed up their army building process,” but “those that choose to avoid it can do so without any negative impact on their game.” While the argument is sound, as neither Monolith nor Warner Bros. Interactive are forcing players to buy into loot boxes, it’s certainly indicative of the current trend within the industry that sees publishers and developers attempting to find as many revenue streams as possible, which points toward the future of gaming likely including microtransactions for some time to come.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is set to release on October 10, 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.