Welcome back to Everybody Mad™, an apparently ongoing series that aims to chronicle those times in which, verily, Everybody Mad™.
As promised last October, Rocket League developer Psyonix fully revamped the game’s loot system with today’s v1.70 patch, replacing the existing randomized loot box system with a more legislation-friendly “blueprint” mechanic. Instead of receiving boxes containing randomized prizes that must be unlocked with a real-money currency, players now receive blueprints for specific items that can be built using real-money currency.
The primary difference between the two systems — on paper, anyway — is that you now know exactly what you’re getting before you spend the money on it. This sounds like a win for everyone involved; players won’t drop coin on items they won’t use, and Psyonix (and its recently acquired parent company, Epic Games) won’t have to worry about an ongoing global effort to classify loot boxes as a type of gambling. In practice, however, the new system amounts to a near-universal price hike across all of Rocket League‘s cosmetic items.
Under the old system, each “crate” containing a randomized item required one key to open, and each key cost about $1 USD. The loot box in question had a percentage chance of containing an item classified “Rare” to “Black Market,” with Rare items being the most common and Black Market items being the least. But regardless of what your crate contained, the conversion rate was consistent: one key equaled one new item, common or otherwise.
With the new system, each blueprint has its own unique cost, and rarer items require substantially more than one key’s worth of credits — the new paid currency — to craft. A blueprint for a set of “Exotic”-level wheels, for instance, may cost $14 to convert into an actual item that can be applied to a car. Black Market items start at $20, and even Rare items, which are the most common and therefore least desirable, cost at least $1 to craft.
To complicate matters even further, Rocket League features a robust internal trading system and community, which has for years dictated its own market value for every item in the game. Players could previously trade items for keys to open new crates, and even Exotic or Black Market items could be acquired for just a few $1 keys. Players can still trade blueprints for other blueprints or blueprints for credits, but the crafting cost of each blueprint (and therefore, its value) is now set in stone.
Over on /r/RocketLeague, players have wasted no time blaming Epic for the new system. “Epic games fucking us with the Fortnite model,” said /u/huntsee in a comment with 1,400 upvotes. “People pay 16 dollars for skins over there so they thought it would he great here. I can see 24 dollars for dissolver or like tw mainframe, but 14 dollars for unpainted infiniums? HA. They fucked up big time.”
“2000 credits for a magma. You’d be lucky if you could sell one for 5 keys on the trading market,” said /u/RocketLeagueLurker, whose assertion was backed up by /u/OneShotStormiie: “Yea i got Magma from a blueprint and thought WOW a BM Decal amazing! then saw they want $20 when it was barely worth 6 keys a few days ago… PASS! NO THANKS!”
In another comment, /u/atoastedcucumber called the new system “predatory” and “manipulative,” even without the randomized element:
It’s too expensive. I believe that rarity should have no influence on the price you pay from getting a random drop from a blueprint. If you have a rare item drop from a blueprint, it should cost the same as any other drop from a blueprint.
Previously you would spend 1 key opening a crate and thus whatever dropped from the crate would cost you 1 key. Market price dictated its worth, but its cost to you, the consumer and crate opener was 1 key.
I think that making items priced differently upon rarity is redundant and serves no actual purpose other than to serve as a psychological fallacy to trick the consumer into thinking “oh wow i pulled a super rare item, well it must be worth it to pay the 20$ since of course its super rare, who wouldnt open a super rare?”
Its predatory and still manipulative.
As with the subreddit, Rocket League‘s Twitter community is similarly awash with calls for a credit boycott, as well as unsubstantiated claims that today’s update heralds an Epic-mandated shift to free-to-play in 2020. As of press time, neither Psyonix nor Epic has issued a statement addressing the situation.