By Jason Parker
December 5, 2019
Rocket League made a pretty gigantic move in this latest update. A new Rocket League Blueprint system now replaces loot boxes. According to the trading community, it batters their system of using worthless (less than $1) items and trading them for something else.
Now, those items have a real-money value on the Rocket League store, similar to the Fortnite store. That sounds about right, being owned by Epic Games and all. The big complaint seems to be, “Everything costs 3x more now!” But how?
How can an item with no real money value in-game suddenly cost 3x more than? These items were in loot boxes that you spent about a dollar on a key. Then if you were lucky, you got the thing you wanted.
But honestly? I can see both sides of this. So let’s chat about it.
Back when I wrote for MMOHuts, I posted a query to my audience in a giveaway. I asked, “Hypothetically, would you be willing to spend a little more money to buy the exact item you want instead of loot boxes?” and the answer I got shocked me.
More people than not were willing to spend on loot boxes and gamble their way to an item. I frankly don’t understand that kind of thinking. I would much rather buy the item for a few dollars more and get exactly the skin or cosmetic I want. Plus, loot boxes in all games have useless tosh that you don’t care about. Jump Stamps, colors, announcer packs, rims, whatever that game may offer.
I see this as a more consumer-friendly move. You might say, “Well, some of these items cost more than the game itself!” and yes, that’s true. A lot of direct purchase cosmetics aren’t cheap. But instead of gambling and gambling, you can pick up what you want.
Not to mention, you see what you will get in your Blueprint. Sure, you have to use Credits to use these Blueprints. But I feel like the ability to know what I’m getting (and whether I want to waste my time or not) is important.
It all depends on how you felt about loot boxes and gambling. I imagine a lot of the loot box purchases were impulse buys, where someone had a tenner just lying around and decided to buy some keys or something. Now, the monetization will feel significantly different.
The more cynical take is, “Now the game is all about whales.” But is it, though? Do any of these items make you better at the game? No, they’re all cosmetics. The way I understand it is, people would have crates of items that were worthless (less than the price of a key). They were incredibly easy to trade for and acquire among players.
Now those items cost 5-10 bucks, perhaps even more. But if these were worthless items that nobody seemed to care about, why is anyone upset about these items costing more money now?
With this change, all those Discord servers and groups of people that traded Keys to get what they want, cannot do that now. Keys converted into credits, and you can trade credits. But you can only trade them for a non-credit item, which makes sense.
I understand those people being upset that the Credit change ruins their commerce/trading system, but I don’t necessarily agree. But I do understand some parts of the argument. Very Rare Decal Blueprints cost 500 Credits (equal to about five keys). A day ago, these were available in trade for less than the value of one key.
Some of these are incredibly expensive now, like Zomba Blueprints. These run for 1,400 Credits (or 14 keys). I understand having to spend more money might seem like a crummy deal. I get it, I do! But I’d rather spend more and not gamble on loot boxes.
I’m not a fan of loot boxes. It’s the worst, scummiest way to monetize a game, in my opinion. What made it so egregious to me in Rocket League, is Rocket League is not a free game. Free-to-play games get a bit more leeway from me. They must monetize somehow, after all.
If those games remain purely cosmetic, I’m willing to overlook it. But Rocket League was a buy-to-play game with loot boxes, and that’s the same thing I rail at Overwatch for. So, it’s only fair to stand my ground.
But now that they’ve removed loot boxes with the new Rocket League Blueprint system, I think we need to give it a little time and see how these prices shake out. If they are unreasonable, or too high-priced, perhaps they’ll adjust them. The only way things can change is with discourse. There’s a difference between “discourse” and “being an absolute tosspot on the internet.”
It looks like they have good intentions, though. I do have a feeling at first, they’ll take a pretty serious financial hit by this move. I don’t think it’s going to make them more money, except by the odd Whale that lives on cosmetics. I’m not shaming those people, though. It’s your money, do with it what you will.
If you think about it, though, the items might cost more, but consider how much people tend to spend on loot boxes just for one or two items. I think the price will probably be about the same as what they’re spending directly.
As a final thought, consider this. Say you had 50 loot boxes. You have no idea what’s in any of them. You buy some keys to open them, to see if you get something useful. More than likely, you won’t. But with the blueprints, you can see “Oh, 17 of these are duplicates, five of them are the same item! Now I don’t need to worry about those.”
With a store like the Fortnite store, I think it will wind up being a net gain in the long-term for Epic. It is a very sudden, immediate change. I see why people might not agree. Where do you stand, though?
I have a feeling Rocket League will be free-to-play in 2020. If a game is free-to-play, I don’t mind dumping money in if I love it. But I still hate loot boxes. I’m glad to see them go.
Do you think it ruins the game forever, or is it much nicer to buy what you want?