I think with the gaming press we have sort of two issues here:
- “Don’t bite the hand that feeds” you.
In the past this might have meant just the games companies involved, who have shown themselves to be extremely petty and vindictive and absolutely not above cutting journalists off for being “overly critical” or even just reporting things that they didn’t want reported.
But it’s even worse now, because we have legions of over-invested fanboys, who have spent various amounts on lootboxes (often quite large amounts), and feel the need to retroactively justify their spending by defending lootboxes to the very last ditch, with every possible irrational argument, diversionary tactic, strawman, burst of whataboutery, or just outright abuse. You can see this on any discussion site where lootbox-y games get discussed much, esp. the discussion sites for games which have lootboxes specifically. If you point out anything wrong with them, these sort of people will flock and shriek about how unfair people are being and spurious arguments will constantly be produced - often along the lines of “Kids shouldn’t be playing these games!” (kids shouldn’t be playing FIFA? seriously?) or “Nobody who can’t afford it spends money on this!” (just like no-one gambles money when they can’t afford it, or blows it on other perishables) or incredibly dumb arguments about how it “Isn’t gambling” because it doesn’t match the ultra-specific definition of gambling in some national or state law.
And I think the threat of these two things together makes some gaming sites extremely nervous about saying anything truthful about loot boxes, for fear of losing access or losing audience. It isn’t helped that probably some of the journos involved are indulging in them themselves. It’s pretty shit but it’s a thing.
- “I don’t buy lootboxes and/or I don’t play games which have lootboxes so who cares?”
This is another thing that’s going on. To some extent lootboxes have been successfully repulsed from non-F2P AAA non-sports games. I mean, obviously not entirely, but they’ve certainly gone to something that’s no longer designed in as a core element of the game in a routine way, as they were, say, 3-4 years ago, instead offering just bonus stuff/cosmetics if they’re even present. And they’re not present in indie games, or AA games, generally speaking. And there’s this sort of perception that sports games aren’t for REAL gamers (ugh), so maybe it doesn’t matter they they’re still chock full of this. Indeed, the more a sports game has a “real gamer” audience, likely the less it uses lootboxes, or such is the perception (I’d say it’s not entirely inaccurate). Plus some of the biggest F2P games have moved towards “more ethical” lootboxes or don’t use them - Fortnite, for example, has free lootboxes act as normal (i.e. random), but purchased ones show you what’s in them before you buy. So there’s this sort of vague feeling that maybe they’ll die off naturally, which I think leads to apathy.
But you’re right. It’s totally fucked. It’s conditioning an entire generation to be into this sort of gambling, and it’s shitty-as-fuck for games, because it tends to lock a ton of stuff behind its existence, and it’s screamingly obvious, because you can just watch children interacting with these things and see they’re complete psychopaths about it. Even adults aren’t great.
This report is helpful because it stresses the lack of ambiguity, and it stresses that the people who spend a lot are not people who can afford it, typically.