The developers of Middle-earth: Shadow of War have finally admitted what those who played the game have long known: that loot boxes damaged the quality of the overall game. A follow-up to 2014's Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, the title was one of the most highly anticipated games of 2017, and the initial reception to its release was quite positive, in spite of its clumsy use of Middle-earth lore.
However, it wasn't long before a serious problem reared its ugly head, and one that some had been concerned about pre-release. Middle-earth: Shadow of War may have been primarily a single player game, but it still included some rather predatory loot box mechanics, particularly in its endgame where failing to purchase additional Orcs made it into a serious grind. Although Star Wars: Battlefront II was busy making the biggest loot box-related headlines, Shadow of War ran it close in terms of poor practices.
Now, it seems as though the game's developers have finally admitted that these loot boxes caused serious problems for Shadow of War overall. Over on the WB Games Forum, an update from Monolith games revealed that the game was going to lose its real-world money microtransactions. The reason given is that Monolith has accepted that the loot boxes have had an overall negative impact on the game itself - something that players have long criticized the title for, particularly given that their 'optional' nature was really anything but.
In particular, Monolith pointed out that the loot boxes softened the impact of the game's biggest selling point: the Nemesis System. "We have come to realize that providing this choice risked undermining the heart of our game," stated Monolith in the post, referring to the game mechanic that allows the player to form their own rivalries with enemies. As a matter of fact, the developer stated that being able to purchase Orcs "reduces the immersion in the world and takes away from the challenge of building your personal army and your fortresses." As such, the option to purchase Gold in order to buy followers is being removed from the game, to "fully restore the core promise of the Nemesis System." The microtransactions will not be fully removed until July, however.
Monolith and WB Games will no doubt be hoping that this move helps reduce some of the bad blood that Shadow of War has gained since its release. However, it's likely to be too little, too late to save the reputation of the game, particularly given that the post itself doesn't really contain an apology for the initial use of such gameplay-destroying microtransactions. It's not even the first time that Monolith has had to apologise for Shadow of War, so fans know the developer has the capability.
The game's players have generally been skeptical about Monolith's reasons for this update, with the developer perhaps gearing up for the release of a complete edition of the game, and as such it may well not have the impact that Monolith expects. After all, if it was too late for Star Wars: Battlefront 2, it's clearly too late for Shadow of War. At the end of the day, greed has ended up ruining what could have been a fantastic game.
Source: WB Games Forum