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Blizzard has reworked the way it handles Overwatch loot box sales in China in response to a law that alters how games regulate and sell random-chance loot boxes.
The new format sees the company directly selling in-game credits to players and including loot boxes as a free gift with the transaction, seemingly sidestepping a provision within that law that bars the direct sale of boxes.
Blizzard initially released a initially share a slice of that probability data to comply with the law itself, which went into effect at the beginning of May and requires publishers to clearly disclose potential item drops and the chance each item has to show up in a box. Now the company has altered the way it brands loot box sales in order to once again stay in line with Chinese law.
A translation of a post from the Chinese Overwatch forum explains that players will no longer be able to purchase loot boxes outright. Instead, microtransactions now sell Chinese players between 5 and 120 of the game’s in-game currency and toss in 2-50 loot boxes as a free gift, depending on a number of credits purchased.
The ‘free gift’ loot boxes included with the in-game currency purchase seem to be where most, if not all, of the value in these microtransactions still lie. On its own, the new system, which charges as much 238 yuan (roughly $35) for 120 credits would otherwise be a sour deal for players.
120 credits is enough for the cheapest tier of character skins, which sell for 75 credits but the more sought after legendary and event exclusive skins can come in between 750 and 3000 credits on their own. But, since the 238 yuan tier also comes with the "gift" of 50 boxes, Blizzard is able to continue to sell loot boxes in a situation where their direct sale is otherwise barred.
Other developers and publishers operating in the area have also implemented changes to accommodate the new law. For example, Valve temporary shut down sales of random drop boxes for Dota 2 and League of Legends’ publisher has meanwhile complied with the law and released a table detailing the probability powering each drop.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that the changes would allow Blizzard to sidestep the probability disclosure requirement. Blizzard has since reached out to clarify that the change was in response to a regional law that disallowed the direct sale of lootboxes. The story above has been updated to reflect this.