Fortnite Boss Condemns Loot Boxes, Praises Cross-Play

"Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines ... or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust?"

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Fortnite is one of the biggest games on the planet, and as a free-to-play game, it makes money from the sale of microtransactions. Unlike other popular free-to-play titles, however, the game does not have loot boxes.

Developer Epic Games stands against loot boxes as a monetization practice. CEO Tim Sweeney said during the D.I.C.E. 2020 Summit in Las Vegas that loot boxes share the same characteristics as gambling, and they have no place in games.

"We have to ask ourselves, as an industry, what we want to be when we grow up?" he said to an audience of some of the biggest names in gaming, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines ... or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust? I think we will see more and more publishers move away from loot boxes."

He added: "We should be very reticent of creating an experience where the outcome can be influenced by spending money. Loot boxes play on all the mechanics of gambling except for the ability to get more money out in the end."

Fortnite's microtransactions come in the form of cosmetics that people can buy to outfit their characters in unique and personalized ways. The content that Epic sells for the game does not impact gameplay.

EA's Star Wars: Battlefront II generated a lot of buzz for its implemention of loot boxes. In its pre-launch state, the game allowed players to spend money on loot boxes that could contain items that affect gameplay. Players voiced their concerns about this, and EA removed these loot boxes--and all of the game's microtransactions--for the game's official launch. Microtransactions later returned to the game.

Also during his talk, Sweeney spoke about how he hopes to see more cross-play games in the future. The executive said cross-play is good for business, as he found that Fortnite players who play together spend more time in the game and buy more microtransactions.

"What we all really want and need to accept is equal access to all customers and give up our attempts to create our own private wall guard or private monopoly," Sweeney said. "In Fortnite, the player who spends with friends plays for twice as long and spends more money. Cross-platform is the future and we all have to do our part."

Cross-play is indeed becoming more and more popular. Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is the first entry in the series to feature cross-play, and that game set new sales and microtransaction records.

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