Earlier today, Blizzard announced a change to Overwatch’s loot box system in China. Starting with the forthcoming 1.12 update, players can buy its in-game currency, credits, with real money… and each transaction will come with a few loot boxes bundled in. How intriguing.
Learn about all the Overwatch changes that ARE coming West in our update tracker.
Here’s the post on the Chinese forums, and here’s the bang you get for your buck (or, in this case, yuan):
- 5 credits and 2 loot boxes for 12元, roughly £1.37 or $1.76
- 15 credits and 5 loot boxes for 30元, roughly £3.41 or $4.41
- 30 credits and 11 loot boxes for 60元, roughly £6.83 or $8.82
- 60 credits and 24 loot boxes for 120元, roughly £13.65 or $17.64
- 120 credits and 50 loot boxes for 238元, roughly £27.08 or $34.99
A couple of things may strike you about these numbers. For one, if you play Overwatch you'll know that 120 credits for $35 is an absolute joke, whereas 50 loot boxes for the same price is much more reasonable, based on what Blizzard charges us in the West for real-money loot box purchases.
And therein lies the point. Recent Chinese laws force Blizzard to disclose the exact odds of receiving each class of item in a loot box, but if Blizzard can claim that they’re selling players credits instead, and merely bundling loot boxes with the transaction as a free ‘gift’, then the loot boxes become exempt from that law.
Winowmak3r on Reddit has this analogy by way of explanation:
“Imagine Overwatch is blackjack. There's a law that says casinos can't sell people another draw of a card in a game of blackjack, so to get around this the casino sells you a token that you can use to buy something in their gift shop, which includes a ‘gift’ of another draw... to get around the law. They're not selling you the draw of a card, they're selling you tokens to the gift shop. It's one of those weird legal technicalities.”
Since this is clearly a dodge for a Chinese law, don't expect it to happen anywhere else. And since credits can be used to unlock specific Overwatch items, being able to purchase them with real money would slash the time that most will stay invested in the loot box system. You'd never buy a loot box again. This explains why the exchange rate above is so appalling.