As if Fallout 76 wasn't dealing with enough problems, it has been recently discovered by data miners that the always-online survival game may be adding pay-to-win elements soon. These pay-to-win products will take the form of lootboxes, and it appears that Fallout 76 developer Bethesda Game Studios will refer to these lootboxes as "Lunchboxes."
Fallout 76 was panned upon launch like no other Bethesda release before it, and the game remained in the spotlight when Bethesda shipped the $200 Power Armor Edition with cheap nylon knockoffs of the edition's advertised canvas bags. Bethesda later gave in and offered to ship proper canvas bags to affected customers, but not before the stunt indirectly led to a significant breach of customers' data when they tried to get their money back (which Bethesda erroneously valued at five dollars worth of Atoms, Fallout 76's premium currency). This latest development is just icing on the cake, and it may even be worse than it sounds.
The impending addition of Lunchboxes to Fallout 76 was not made known to the game's player base in a transparent press release by Bethesda; rather, their coming was identified in a Reddit post on the Fallout subreddit. User JesMaine, an analysis of fellow Redditor despotak's data mined changelog, paints a picture that is ugly even by Fallout 76's standards when detailing some of the defining characteristics of the upcoming loot box system. They estimate that Lunchboxes will appear in the game at some undetermined, but likely fast-approaching, time, and that the game's code points to their probable contents including buffs to carrying capacity, radiation resistance, and attack damage, as well as XP boosts. Also hinted at in the game's data is the incoming monetization of Perk Card Packs, which can currently only be attained through gameplay.
Considering that many day-one Fallout 76 players already feel burned by Bethesda for immediately and steeply discounting the game post-launch, and taking into account the fire storm of bad decisions and broken promises that already surrounds the game, this latest revelation could very well be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back. Fallout 76 is a full-price game whose progression system centers around combat and exploration (and proudly features PvP combat, no less), and many feel that Lunchboxes directly undermine that. Most bewildering is the fact that Bethesda has displayed an intimate understanding in the past that players would respond negatively to pay-to-win elements like the ones these suggested Lunchboxes threaten to bring, having previously promised to restrict the game's microtransactions to cosmetic-only items.
Direct betrayal of player trust on this scale may cause the game to hemorrhage even more of its suspected dwindling player count before 2018's end, as this could put those players who have opted to weather the bad press and continue to support what could easily be described as the year's most disappointing game over the edge. In just a couple of months, Bethesda has gone from the beloved vanguard of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises to the widely disparaged peddler of the half-baked cash-in that is Fallout 76. Now, one has to wonder if the money Bethesda stands to make from unwanted inclusions like Lunchboxes is worth the ill will the company is generating for itself in the process.