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Friday, 12 January 2018 | MYT 8:30 AM

Breakout hit ‘PUBG’ builds out loot crate system, publishes win percentages

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds blends Brendan Greene's Battle Royale knowhow with years of loot box expertise from MMO studio Bluehole. 

2017's runaway hit videogame PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is expanding its range of loot crates from two to four, with one of them becoming the action game's first permanently available paid-for crate. 

As blind-bought mystery items that can be purchased or opened using virtual currencies or keys bought for real world cash, loot boxes or loot crates leverage a powerful reward mechanism called the variable ratio schedule. 

The excitement generated by not knowing what sort of reward will be delivered, along with the potential of receiving a really rare and valuable item, means that developers and publishers are able to make good money from selling crates or the keys with which to open them. 

Discussion around loot boxes intensified in late 2017 as several high-profile games made heavy use of them, including but not limited to Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Call of Duty: WWII and Star Wars Battlefront II, as well as the exponentially expensive microtransactions of NBA 2K18

There's additional incentive to participate in PUBG's crate system because players can sell crate contents to one another through the Steam Marketplace – Bluehole receives 10% of each transaction and Steam makes 5%. 

The expanded PUBG crate system was outlined in a Jan 9 blog post as a new update was pushed to public test servers. 

As before, up to six random crates can be bought each week, using points obtained through playing the game. Each crate's point cost more or less doubles with every subsequent purchase. 

Players had previously worked out probabilities for items inside the standard Wanderer and Survivor crates, and PUBG Corp is now providing those statistics out of the gate for the paid-unlock Desperado and free-unlock Biker crates. 

In testing, the four-crate system now delivers a Desperado class crate 40% of the time and a Biker crate 40% of the time. Drop rates for the existing Wanderer and Survivor crates fall to 10% each. 

Eight of the Desperado crate's 22 possible items have a cumulative drop rate of 60%. They'll be found three in five times. 

By contrast, the Desperado's rarest item has a 0.16% chance of dropping, i.e., 1 in 625 times. 

The publication of drop rates not only brings a measure of transparency to PUBG's implementation of loot boxes, regardless of how far it ameliorates the variable ratio reward effect, but it is also in line with Chinese legislation. 

With China the world's biggest single PC gaming market, PUBG announced a partnership with domestic distributor Tencent in November 2017. 

The listing would also be required by Apple should either of Tencent's two proposed mobile spin-offs make it to iOS devices. — AFP Relaxnews