What just happened? The issue of randomized loot boxes has been a hot topic in the game industry for a couple of years, but only now is Epic Games removing the feature from Fortnite’s Save the World mode. The usual ‘V-Bucks Llama’ is being replaced with the ‘X-Ray Llama,” which show their contents before players purchase them.
X-Ray Llamas will be added to the game in the 7.30 update. Upgrading the 50 V-buck (around 50 cents, depending if bought it bulk) loot boxes will still show what’s inside, and players have to wait for the next day before their contents refresh. Additionally, Llamas earned solely through gameplay will continue to house random surprise items.
The change only applies to Fortnite’s Player vs. Environment Save the World mode. The more popular Battle Royale version doesn’t contain paid-for randomized loot boxes.
"We believe it’s important that the Llamas you buy have what you want, and that you can earn awesome items just for logging in and playing," Epic wrote in a post announcing the move.
Back in 2017, the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box controversy was a turning point for the game industry. It led to the feature being classed as gambling in Holland and Belgium, where EA faced criminal charges for not removing loot boxes from FIFA. The game company recently said it would stop selling FIFA points in the country.
In the US, the FTC last year promised to investigate loot boxes, and an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) executive warned that the industry needed to regulate itself or risk facing consequences handed down by governments.