You know what’s better than paying real money for digital items? Paying real money for digital items that you don’t get to keep. That seems to be Twitch’s view on the subject in any case, if the new seasonal Twitch emotes being locked behind a loot-crate system is any indication.
Until the 3rd November, ‘cheering’ (another method of offering financial support to a streamer) with at least 250 bits will open up a special loot-crate offering new Halloween-themed Twitch emotes. In their blog post on the subject (including of course an epic Game of Thrones reference for epic nerds like us amiright?) Twitch lays out how the new emotes are only temporary for the remainder of the year, but acquiring all six will unlock one of them for permanent use. Of course, if you use 5000 bits (around $70) for a single cheer, you also immediately unlock the permanent emote as well.
Because of course you do. Why would it be any different nowadays?
Loot-crates themselves are not a new thing for Twitch; since early April of this year, ‘Twitch Crates’ have been live and offering random rewards such as Twitch emotes in return for purchases of $4.99 or up on the platform. At the time the loot-crate epidemic was not so widespread, and whilst the fact only a single crate could be obtained regardless of the size of purchase might have raised a few eyebrows it largely passed under the radar for industry pundits. These new Halloween ‘rewards’ come at a bad time in general for the ‘randomised loot’ system however, and are already beginning to draw criticism. They’ll be highly successful thanks to folks who just have to own a full set of anything, there’s no doubt about that, but that does not mean they portend well for the future of streaming platforms and other entertainment distribution mediums.
By now, I expect most of us are intimately familiar with what a loot-crate is; we’ve talked about them here before when covering Shadow of War, (and I’m glad to see that much of the internet seems to agree with my assessment of the situation) and other games such as the most recent Forza or NBA 2k18 have suffered their fair share of controversies over the system. Yet that same system continues to be proliferated throughout digital entertainment platforms, and so we can only presume that that means people keep on buying them.
It’s difficult to say at present exactly what the future is for loot-crates, both in-game and through mediums such as Twitch. The UK recently took action against explicit online gambling aimed at children, an important step that some are hoping may eventually see loot-crates themselves facing stricter regulation. For the moment it still feels unlikely that a government would step that much into the industry on what many still think (rightly or wrongly) is a trivial matter. But if something as popular as the Twitch emote can fall prey to the temptations of the loot-crate, then truly nothing is sacred or safe.
At age seven, Jordan wanted to be a paleontologist. That went well. He now fills the void by writing on all manner of mildly-interesting topics - when he finds time in between complaining how everything was better in the 'good old days', that is.