GDC: One in 10 Developers Plan to Include Loot Boxes in Their Game

Game Developers Conference revealed the news in its 2018 State of the Industry Survey

GDC Expo Credit: GDC

One in 10 game developers are working on a game featuring loot boxes, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) revealed in its 2018 State of the Industry Survey. It also found a ton of favor from game developers for the Nintendo Switch, revealing games sell as well or better than other platforms.

This year, GDC's survey polled "nearly" 4,000 game developers, finding a large interest in Nintendo's latest console, the Nintendo Switch. 12 percent of those polled are actively working on Switch games, up from only three percent in 2017. "Even more developers – 15 percent of respondents – said that they are planning to make their next game available on the platform, a sharp increase from last year’s survey in which only 5 percent said the same," GDC said about the findings. 

Additionally, GDC found 36 percent of developers are most interested in the Switch – more interest, it points out, than the the Xbox One and Xbox One X. PC and PlayStation 4 interested the majority of developers, though, with 59 percent and 39 percent interested in the platforms, respectively. 

The Switch's also been a great spot for game sales, developers revealed in the survey. "Despite the comparatively smaller size of the Switch’s install base versus competing consoles, 28 percent of respondents have said that their games have sold better than average on Switch, while 23 percent said their sales on Switch have been average," GDC said. "Only 16 percent of respondents said their games have sold less on Switch than other consoles. Considering that 33 percent of respondents said this question didn't apply to them, we conclude that 76 percent of respondents who launched a game on Switch saw sales match or exceed those on other platforms."

While this news could be seen as positive for the industry, GDC found more troubling news in the game industry – mainly the large influx of developers working on loot boxes for their respective games. 

According to GDC, 49 percent of developers polled picked "pay to download" when asked to select which business models they planned to use for their next game. "23 percent said their next game would feature paid downloadable content (DLC) updates, and 22 percent said it would feature in-game items sold for real money," GDC found.

11 percent of the polled – one in 10 developers, GDC says – said their next game would include some kind of "paid item crates." 

It's a surprising number considering the contentious conversation currently surrounding loot boxes going on in the game industry right now. While companies such as EA have admitted their commitment to the games as a service model, it's come back to bite them in the past. As the conversation around loot boxes continues to evolve – specifically the legality of such mechanics – it seems the game industry is doubling down on the games as a service model. 

The Game Developer's Conference is set to take place in San Francisco between March 19th and the 23rd.