Once Bitten, Twice Shy. Loot Boxes in TERA and why they're killing this game. (Very Long Read)

Hello All.

It was upon the urging of @Sarumonin that I am posting this. For those who have limited attention spans or believe in minimalist writing, this post is not for you, and you'd be better served by moving along. Don't say you weren't warned.

I'd like to start by saying that Loot Boxes are a necessary evil in "Free to Play" games. Few things in life are free, and even those that are, come with some kind of cost or investment. When TERA started off on PC, it was a paid game that cost $15/month. The game struggled with competition from similar games like World of Warcraft that had similar pricing, but a much larger fan base. Despite TERA's "True Action Combat" system being a legit draw, the game was losing momentum. The powers that be decided to take a gamble by making the game Free to Play to entice more players to at least give the game a try, confident that it's unique properties would win over old and new gamers to MMOs. The gamble paid off, at least initially, and TERA was able to keep its head above water for a while.

As the years carried onwards, newer designed games with superior graphics and more detailed modeling brought new competition. Enhancements to customization, personalization, and the selling of cosmetic items were the order of the day, and kept TERA going a bit longer. But even that wasn't enough for very long. An odd decision to separate female Popori and make them their own Elin race brought new attention to TERA. And the embracing of 'Loli Culture' and unique item personalization of these Elins was a huge financial success, and saved this game from extinction. Not too long thereafter, TERA was overhauled from a slow-progression Level 60 game to a faster progression Level 65 game. It was this faster paced game that made its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

With that history in mind, this game (like many things) cannot and will not exist without a steady flow of cash. The selling of cosmetic items and in-game services is what keeps this game alive. When the funds stop, TERA won't exist. I feel the need to draw attention to this fact because there are going to be naysayers to a few points I will make here that will state things like: 'No one made you spend that money.' 'Cosmetics are optional.' 'Loot boxes are a gamble.' And other such similar comments that fail to address the root problem here. Sure, I didn't have to spend that money or any money whatsoever on TERA, but someone did. When the players stop buying digital items and services, we lose our game. So I try to buy a few things every month (or two or three) as my contribution to keep this game afloat. You're welcome.

That having been said, En Masse and Bluehole, you guys are killing this game. Yes, you have legal descriptions of Loot Boxes that state that they're really just Semi-Enigmatic Scroll boxes that "may" include bonus items, etc., etc... That's to avoid the comparisons to and definitions of online gambling. It works here in the U.S., but in other TERA areas loot box percentages and other concessions have to be published for them to sell Loot Boxes. But that's not my point or my argument, just stating facts that show that some governments have stepped in to minimize their citizens being shafted by predatory practices.

Now for why I'm pissed enough to write this novel of a post. During the TERA Store Black Friday Event, an item I desired but missed out on purchasing when it was initially offered was reintroduced into the TERA Store for a limited time. The item was called "Seren's Night School Uniform", a dyeable Elin-only costume item obtained from Seren's Night School Locker (a Loot Box). I imagine if directly priced, it would compare to the Ingenue's Costume which is priced at 1795 EMP. With the Black Friday discount, each Loot Box was 100 EMP. I purchased a total of 76 boxes (7600 EMP spent) and got absolute crap as a result. Unlike Loot Boxes for things like Royal Dragon Flying Mounts, this box didn't include any alkahests or anything useful. It did, give me quite a few Master Enigmatic Scrolls, but seeing as how I had well over 1100 of them before opening my first box, adding to my stash did absolutely nothing for me. It did cause me to say "Screw TERA" and not touch the game for a month outside of logging in to collect Elite Gift Boxes and then log back out. Had it not been for that chat with Sarumonin, I'd likely have dropped TERA altogether. But he is a wise one, that Saru, and he convinced me to give TERA another try. I even bought some EMP items (of the non-RNG variety) as a show of good faith.

I told him I was trying to work on a suggestion for the powers that be within En Masse and Bluehole that would make unsuccessful Loot Box attempts for cosmetic items less of a pain for those who seek pretty pixels. So I came up with a solution I think would work, and am working on some implementation details, and then today happened. I get paid, and purchase 12000 EMP (that's $100 USD). Plenty enough to obtain one of the limited-time Starglow Weapon Skins, right? Wrong! Money and EMP spent, and no weapon skin to show for it. I don't mind alkahests, but why in the hell are Health Potions even in the loot tables for these boxes, seriously?!

So, frustrated, pissed, but with a solution in mind here I am, and here it is: Loot Boxes no longer award random items if you don't get their themed item, but instead include a fixed number of "coins" (En Masse and Bluehole can come up with a name). Cheaper boxes would have one, more expensive boxes would include two or more. These coins (account bound and bankable, but not tradable) when clicked on would access a store where by the redeemer can choose what they'd like to purchase with it. Items like Semi-Enigmatic Scrolls, varying alkahests, Master Enigmatic Scrolls, etc. Pretty much all the random items presently being awarded, but with the random aspect removed. En Masse and Bluehole could even go one better and use this as a way to create new demand for the purchasing of Loot Boxes by making some harder to obtain consumables like Blessed or Noble Enigmatic Scrolls costing a higher number of these coins. Or creating new items like a universal Feedstock that can be used for any level of item.

I'll be honest with you all, I don't see En Masse and Bluehole implementing any of this. They have these abysmal odds with no failure caps (except for Elleon's) in place for a reason. They are falsely mistaken that this is a way to earn money and succeed. It is not. It is a way to infuriate your player base to the point that they look elsewhere for their online entertainment. TERA isn't the only game in town, and non-En Masse forums are ripe with disgruntled players fed up with fighting ridiculous odds to get gear (whether by drop or a design to craft), then masterwork it, then roll it's abilities, then enchant it to +12, awaken it, then get it to +15. As well as players (called "whales") like me that spend money on cosmetics because we like to personalize our characters, but that also know that without ours or someone's spending, this game will cease to be supported.

Well, it's been a marvelous journey, fellow denziens of Arborrea, but my time amongst you has reached its end. I'm grown enough to accept responsibility for my real and virtual spending, and wise enough to see no future in it. When my Elite Status expires next month, I don't intend to renew it. I sincerely hope the powers that be within En Masse and Bluehole take my "coin" suggestion to heart. I've spoken with other players, Sarumonin being one of them, and many think this will take the sting out of not hitting that jackpot... I mean, obtaining that chance item, from the various Loot Boxes. I'm happy that I was able to support this endeavor for as long as I did, but today's burn has solidified my decision to depart.

@Halrath @Denommenator Thank you both for your service to this community, and for fighting an often unappreciated uphill battle with the powers that be for the players you represent. If the time comes that En Masse and Bluehole adjusts their policies and reduces the gear maximising and obtaining RNG, or introduces failure caps, my coin idea, or other consumer friendly practices, I may well return. But I wanted to convey my thanks, should that day never come, as well as submit my suggestion for a solution to curb the frustration we smaller "whales" face, because when we all leave or stop buying stuff, TERA loses.


Sincerely,

~Groove

Comments

  • 5T5EKM35RC5T5EKM35RC New Hampshire
    I haven't put much money into the game, only bought the starter and deluxe pack, but you are correct. Without people like you, free to play games die out. I do thank you for everything you've done to keep the game rolling. I don't buy loot boxes because I hate the gambling aspect of them, but even I might give it a shot if they introduce your system.
  • Same with gambling, do it for fun, not the winnings, and only do it if you can afford to lose. Just because you bought 76 boxes does not guarantee a drop, someone might bought 3 boxes and got a drop, that's the point of a lootbox.

    If you think this game has a bad cash shop system, you haven't played much east asian f2p mmos

    And back to your original argument, lootboxes are essential to mmos, as it make certain items scarce and more valuable, and divide up the population into classes. Let alone like I said Tera's cash shop structure is fair
  • > @oooogameon said:
    > Same with gambling, do it for fun, not the winnings, and only do it if you can afford to lose. Just because you bought 76 boxes does not guarantee a drop, someone might bought 3 boxes and got a drop, that's the point of a lootbox.
    >
    > If you think this game has a bad cash shop system, you haven't played much east asian f2p mmos
    >
    > And back to your original argument, lootboxes are essential to mmos, as it make certain items scarce and more valuable, and divide up the population into classes. Let alone like I said Tera's cash shop structure is fair

    I sincerely hope there are enough like-minded players similar to you to keep this game running, but my personal experience in this game (our player base is less than 25% of what it was at launch) and others, tells me that it is a sinking ship. Companies don't survive without capital, and most of the people I know that have spent money on TERA have had an unpleasant enough experience, that they don't intend to spend any, or little, ever again.

    Loot Boxes are essential, we both agree with that. But failure caps and a decent consolation system would go a long way to keep the spenders spending. Unfortunately, TERA has neither, and doesn't look to be implementing any anytime soon.

    ~Groove
  • > @5T5EKM35RC said:
    > I haven't put much money into the game, only bought the starter and deluxe pack, but you are correct. Without people like you, free to play games die out. I do thank you for everything you've done to keep the game rolling. I don't buy loot boxes because I hate the gambling aspect of them, but even I might give it a shot if they introduce your system.

    Let's hope they do something before the game dies. The PvP Servers are already ghost towns on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, on servers worldwide. And the PvE Servers are in population decline.

    Plus, there's a significant amount of negative sentiment on non-En Masse forums about this game, with only a few non-sponsored forums supporting it. I like TERA, but enough is enough, and I'm a consumer that votes with his wallet. I do, however, wish the game success. I just find that to be an unlikely reality on the game's present course.

    ~Groove
  • groovenik wrote: »
    So I try to buy a few things every month (or two or three) as my contribution to keep this game afloat. You're welcome.

    Thank you very much for your contribution to keeping this game afloat! :)

    Like you, I also buy a lot of items from the EMP shop, and the Xbox store, to help support this f2p game, because I enjoy the game so much. In this thread about loot boxes https://forums.enmasse.com/tera/discussion/28711/lootboxes-discussion , the OP recommended having a "cap" on opened boxes, where a certain number of opened boxes would result in rewarding the item, if you did not receive the item before hitting that number of opened boxes.

    I love your token/coin idea. I think having a "loot box token" (or whatever) would be great. I think your idea could be combined with the idea in the other thread by including loot box items within the tokens/coins. Still keep the types of consumables you mentioned, but have the really high token/coin rewards be loot box items. They could possibly design a token/coin that would include a "shop" similar to fashion coupons or Intercede tokens, etc. It could include some consumables (I love your idea of throwing Blessed and Noble Enigmatic scrolls and things like that in there), but it could also include a selection of all of the available loot box rewards. Of course, the loot box rewards would require a very high number of tokens/coins to buy them.

  • E7KJMJA766E7KJMJA766 ✭✭
    edited January 19
    I love loot box i love spend my euro for this game..for me other comments are useless and only envy.

    Tera is not p2w

    I work I do not have farming time,It is right that I can make up for this lack with money.
    It is thanks to those who spend the money that the game is alive..
    Ok finish ot :)



    Now.. the loot box as an enchant it's all random. I spent 5k emp and I did not find the dragon a friend 8 box 2 inner power red... is rng,65 try and weapon he is still at 14 a friend with 12 tries at 15 .
    We must take into consideration that it is a lottery that there is nothing due, complaining about this is ridiculous.
    Invest your money better and buy the items directly from the brooker, be patient and use your emp to earn gold .. but if you want to risk do not complain

    I find your idea on the loot box excellent and support it <<<----
  • That is all what they care about, that is your right position, and they forgot that main aim is to respect players. Which they don’t, or at least not trying hard enough.

    But complaining of your personal luck ain’t smth that they should take care off. I spent 24k emp to get dragon and got nothing. That is luck and I did it for fun and to support devs mainly. But they don’t support us, so maybe you are right and ppl should stop purchasing stuff.

    The biggest difference between NA(EME), EU, Russian and Korean server is within the Community Management. Look on Korea server: they got special events, new items and boosts, and it actually feels smth different. And this is all forced by CM. Here, our CM are forcing mainly moneysuckers and disrespect to loyal players, same as they did on NA PC and it eventually died with like 1k online.

    So I have suggested a lot within the forum, some of my advices were actually taking into account, but main idea is that there should be a dedicated community manager, with strong will and just decisions, who will play the game in server he/she is responsible for, and not disrespect loyal players and their requests,

    Basically that means more working spaces and need to put those on payroll, but, if chosen correctly, would enlarge database!
  • The only thing boycotting lootboxes will do is cause them to pull out of the console market. Tera makes them maybe 2 mil a year vs their other games like pubg that gross far more.

    Also teras been "dying" since 2013 and yet 6 yeara later its still here, ps4 pvp server is still active, villian and GO are still causing havok, highwatch is still full of ppl and the broker is still full of price gouging so this "dying" seems a pretty sketchy claim with only anecdotes backing you up.

    Regardless this games a f2p, adding fail safes to their lootboxes only further shoots down the sales if its too low and causes ppl to look elsewhere if the requirement is too high.

    Look at Ellion marks to get the weapon skin as an example because it exists, if you fail you get a token that can be used to get the skin once you hit 80 tokens or sold to other players

    Look how many are ever sold once ppl saw the numbers let alone how many even have the skin

    Hiding the rng causes ppl to buy it more, the same argument of "killing the game" when pc came out with jewel boxes and talent boxes were made on the forums

    The forums would have you believe its an anti consumer item that doesnt generate profit and no ones buying it but the moment you log into pc tera you see boxes being opened en masse by the MAJORITY of the community.

    Same with these dragon/costume boxes being opened, ppl buying emp with gold, selling loot boxes at 40k a piece.

    This isnt changing and they arent capping anything

    Saru has ppl advocate for things theyll never change like asking for UE4 which was a pipe dream at best and a sick joke at worst.

    You can praise him all you want but id advise reading up on the meme version of insanity if you think asking the same question again after its been asked for 6 years will have a different answer because a console player asked.
  • SarumoninSarumonin mod
    edited January 21
    To be clear, the op (groovenik) approached me with this idea that he was wanting to put on forums. To which I said, "Yeah, you should put it on forums and see if it takes off". Sure, it's a good idea but it's not one I am particularly a part of.

    As for Unreal Engine 4, though I shouldn't speak about it here, @Maximumbooty - it was entirely possible due to the nature of other MMOs of the same age as TERA doing the same thing for their upcoming console counterparts. I was satisfied with the fact that Bluehole answered and said "No". All the community wanted was for Bluehole to hear us, even if it was to say no, at least we'd know that they were reading our feedback / suggestions.

    Regardless, if a community member has an idea that they'd like to present to the rest of the community and potentially the publisher and / or developer, the forums is as best as it gets. I applaud @groovenik for his bravado when coming here, and welcome the continuing conversation on how to better TERA Console on all fronts.
  • oooogameonoooogameon ✭✭
    edited January 21
    groovenik wrote: »
    > @oooogameon said:
    > Same with gambling, do it for fun, not the winnings, and only do it if you can afford to lose. Just because you bought 76 boxes does not guarantee a drop, someone might bought 3 boxes and got a drop, that's the point of a lootbox.
    >
    > If you think this game has a bad cash shop system, you haven't played much east asian f2p mmos
    >
    > And back to your original argument, lootboxes are essential to mmos, as it make certain items scarce and more valuable, and divide up the population into classes. Let alone like I said Tera's cash shop structure is fair

    I sincerely hope there are enough like-minded players similar to you to keep this game running, but my personal experience in this game (our player base is less than 25% of what it was at launch) and others, tells me that it is a sinking ship. Companies don't survive without capital, and most of the people I know that have spent money on TERA have had an unpleasant enough experience, that they don't intend to spend any, or little, ever again.

    Loot Boxes are essential, we both agree with that. But failure caps and a decent consolation system would go a long way to keep the spenders spending. Unfortunately, TERA has neither, and doesn't look to be implementing any anytime soon.

    ~Groove

    I don't think they will ever go with that since "failure caps ...would go a long way to keep the spenders spending" essentially is not how lootbox works. I do however agree on the consolation system, like some f2p games I played you get credits for money spent which can be used to buy items of your pick

    You seem to genuinely like the game and a decent guy, I recommend just lay back and have fun (in this game or other things), it's not like wow where you have to pay a monthly fee, I'm not sure if you have to be that extreme to either play or quit. But if it does stop entertaining you, do what you want. For me personally last thing I want is be stressed and distressed by a game when I have enough sht in real life to worry about
  • > @Sarumonin said:
    > To be clear, the op (groovenik) approached me with this idea that he was wanting to put on forums. To which I said, "Yeah, you should put it on forums and see if it takes off". Sure, it's a good idea but it's not one I am particularly a part of.
    >
    > As for Unreal Engine 4, though I shouldn't speak about it here, @Maximumbooty - it was entirely possible due to the nature of other MMOs of the same age as TERA doing the same thing for their upcoming console counterparts. I was satisfied with the fact that Bluehole answered and said "No". All the community wanted was for Bluehole to hear us, even if it was to say no, at least we'd know that they were reading our feedback / suggestions.
    >
    > Regardless, if a community member has an idea that they'd like to present to the rest of the community and potentially the publisher and / or developer, the forums is as best as it gets. I applaud @groovenik for his bravado when coming here, and welcome the continuing conversation on how to better TERA Console on all fronts.

    You mean that word they used every year for 6 years? Thats what i mean about advocating for a pipe dream.

    People want their voices to be heard ,read uneducated opinion that has little research behind it, to make the game or its mechanics easier for themselves.

    UE4 takes a monstrous amount of work, pretty much rebuilding the game levels of work, time and money that they wont spend.

    Theres asking for actual tangible reasonable thing like longer camera distance, better events, better ui customization

    Then theres ppl asking them to either rebuild the game and/or change their business practices
  • I feel the OP’s frustration a little. I’ve dropped a bit of money into the loot boxes as well (I mean the ghost dragon ride or the crystal dragons? Awesome looking!) and I get gambling and percentages of ratio with win/loss. My personal frustrations are felt out of the 1/4 chance to win something? But I know it’s not. You can randomly select any of the 4 possible boxes in the loot choice and 20 out of 20 times = nothing unique. However, that’s where the frustration stops somewhat. The boxes give me the 3 types of identify scrolls (including 3 of the 100% for masterworking), and lets agree, the middle scroll? Not a cheap item to keep buying when you’re trying to get all your Tier 10+ items up to MW level (fail... fail.. fail..), have gotten lots alkahesh (various types that I can use or sell), Spell-stuff(?). (lock stuff? Can allow you to keep a specific item bonus and cycle the others?). Anywho, I’ve have won the lotto of loot boxes from time to time but the ratio of win/loss is imbalanced for a 1 in 4 system. While I do get stuff I can use or sell or give to guild underlings to help them get going, I wish the ratio matched the odds of winning more often.
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