Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney had some harsh words for the game industry at this year’s DICE Summit in Las Vegas. During his DICE keynote speech on Wednesday, Sweeney took a firm stance against loot boxes and other pay-to-win practices.
The Epic co-founder called the state of monetization in games a “customer adversarial model,” as he mused about the industry’s continued growth and where he sees it going in the next 10 years.
“We have to ask ourselves, as an industry, what we want to be when we grow up,” Sweeney told the crowd, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines … or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust? I think we will see more and more publishers move away from loot boxes.”
While Epic’s own Fortnite includes its fair share of purchasable cosmetics, Sweeney’s problems are with pay-to-win mechanics in games that encourage gambling.
“We should be very reticent of creating an experience where the outcome can be influenced by spending money. Loot boxes play on all the mechanics of gambling except for the ability to get more money out in the end.”
Sweeney’s thoughts are consistent with how Fortnite’s approach to monetization has evolved over time. Early last year, loot boxes in the game’s Save The World mode received a major change with the introduction of X-Ray Llamas, which allowed players to see the full contents of a box before purchasing it.
The question of whether or not loot boxes can be considered gambling has become more pressing in the past year. The U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee put out a report in September condemning the practice and calling on lawmakers to catch up with the times.
Sweeney was much more optimistic on the subject of crossplay, which he described as a positive step forward for the development of games as a communication platform.
“What we all really want and need to accept is equal access to all customers and give up our attempts to create our own private wall guard or private monopoly. In Fortnite, the player who spends time with friends plays for twice as long and spends more money. Cross-platform is the future, and we all have to do our part,” he said.
Last year, Epic Games reaffirmed its support for cross-platform matchmaking in Fortnite, telling players that it was committed to making matches fairer for players on all platforms.
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