This year, seven major titles which explicitly use loot boxes as part of their in-game economies: Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Injustice 2, Lawbreakers, Forza Motorsport 7, For Honor, and the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta. Let's not forget, too, that Destiny 2's Bright Engrams and FIFA 18's Card Packs are essentially the same gimmick wrapped up in passably different clothing. That's seven different genres, all strung up by a gambling-oriented system of microtransactions that, until a few years ago, was relegated to the realm of the free-to-play mobile market. So what's going on?
In short, it’s an inevitable evolution of a culture which has dominated the business of the AAA industry for years. After so many episodes of controversy surrounding overt pay-to-win mechanics and shamelessly overpriced microtransactions, the loot box is the publisher's way of dressing up monetisation in more palatable packaging.