It has been the most commonly held defense for lootboxes that as long as they stay to cosmetics, many will put up with it because it doesn’t affect gameplay.
Games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 were scrutinized heavily for having items that affect game-play, while Overwatch and PUBG have flown safely under the radar with only cosmetic items being unlocked with lootboxes.
PUBG has pushed this defence including in a Q&A where they said “As you may already know, we will never add anything that affects the gameplay”.
But in the process of their recent lawsuit against PUBG clone developers, PUBG Corp let it slip that they believe that cosmetic items affect gameplay, specifically:
“However, clothing does affect gameplay in terms of camouflage. Clothing can be used to assist the
player to blend in with the environment, making the player less visually detectable. In particular,
BATTLEGROUNDS includes a Ghillie suit, a full body suit covered with camouflaging material
typically used by snipers. The Ghillie suit allows the player to become nearly visually invisible
depending upon the terrain.”
We know that the people selling us our games have danced around the way they word things, but this is the first time that one has let it slip, publicly, that they believe cosmetic items affect gameplay. The one common defence for lootboxes.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.