Blizzard has removed the ability to buy randomised loot boxes using real-life money from its MOBA Heroes of the Storm.
It made the move with the minimum of fanfare – simply saying, in Heroes of the Storm’s latest patch notes: “Loot chests are no longer available for Gem purchase.”
The patch notes added: “Rare loot chests are now available for Gold purchase (3000 each).” But among Heroes of the Storm’s various in-game currencies, Gems are the only one which can be purchased with real money. Gems remain in the game, and can still be used to buy the likes of Heroes, Bundles and Featured Items – but not, any more, for the purchase of loot boxes with randomised contents.
Blizzard declined to explain the decision, but it is surely tied to the increasing scrutiny on the purchase of randomised loot boxes with real money, which has led some countries to legislate against the practice and is expected to prompt further legislation. For example, as we reported, Blizzard was forced to remove paid-for loot boxes from Heroes of the Storm in September 2018.
Last December, as reported on its blog, Blizzard downsized its Heroes of the Storm team and cancelled planned esports activities centred on the game. And in February 2019, as we reported, Activision-Blizzard laid off 775 employees, a sizeable chunk of whom worked for Blizzard.
It is not known how many employees are still working on Heroes of the Storm, but it is clear that Blizzard is getting its house in order in anticipation of further anti-loot box legislation. For more news, keep an eye on Heroes of the Storm’s website.