Loot boxes aren't going away, GDC survey says

Joanna Estrada
January 25, 2018

"The Game Developers Conference has surveyed almost 4,000 game developers as part of the sixth annual State of the Industry Survey, which provides a snapshot of the game industry and highlights industry trends ahead of GDC 2018 in March", the official report explains.

Loot boxes are also an integral part of videogame markets outside of North America and Europe, another noted, particularly in China and Japan-which also have laws aimed at protecting consumers from abuse.

15 percent stated that they plan to make their next game available on Nintendo Switch, which, again, was a sharp increase from the 5 percent that said the same a year ago. This places Nintendo's console behind PC (59%) and PS4/PS4 Pro (39%), but ahead of Xbox One/Xbox One X (28%).

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28% of respondents mentioned that their games have sold better than average on Switch, while 23% responded that their sales on Switch have been average. 16 percent shared that their games have sold less on Switch than other consoles. That reflects the real issue, one developer said, which isn't the loot boxes themselves but how they're implemented.

The survey asked developers to elaborate on loot boxes, and many expressed cautious opinions about their proper implementation, bringing up the fact that they should only award cosmetic items. They also made the recommendation that loot boxes only reward items that are also accessible without paying, and only after being properly balanced for gameplay first.

There's also been a slight waning of interest in VR, but developers are still showing healthy support toward the new technology.

When asked what platform their last game was released on, the developers responded with higher numbers for PC (45% in 2017, 50% in 2018), PS4/Pro (19% in 2017, 23% in 2018) and Xbox One/X (15% in 2017, 19% in 2018), but a small decrease in the number of titles that were released on smartphone/tablet devices (35% in 2017, 32% in 2018). 11 percent of developers who responded to the survey said they are now working on a game that will monetize via the sale of "paid item crates", and some developers say they're necessary to ensure the continued stability of the industry. 19% of developers said their current game would be for VR headsets, while slightly fewer at 17% said their next game would be VR-ready. Still, 71% believe VR and AR are long-term sustainable businesses, and even if that's a slight drop from last year's 75%, it's still a solid amount of stated support for the platforms. Stay tuned as we deliver further updates about GDC 2018.

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