The PUBG Corp. recently published a detailed breakdown of the odds of getting certain gear coming to the game's test server in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, showing just how difficult it is to get some of the game's best gear – unless you have a spare 80 years of consistent play time on your hands. According to Ars Technica, getting just one black Sleeveless Biker jacket could take "4,166 weeks, or just under 80 years," to unlock. Let's break these numbers down.
As it stands right now, players can only get six loot crates a week in Battlegrounds. Those crates are rewarded on how well a player plays – the better a player, the more Battle Points (BP) they receive which can be cashed in for loot crates. But, again, the amount they can get per week is only six, inherently limiting the amount of cosmetic items a player can get.
With those odds in mind, we can take a better look at PUBG Corp's breakdown of how often a certain cosmetic item may show up in a loot crate. It's not often.
As Polygon points out, "The most common drops are in the new “Biker” crates: the Long-sleeved T-shirt (Red) and School Shoes (Brown) each have a 15 percent drop chance."
Ars Technica crunched the numbers, showing the near-impossible odds of getting certain items for players – no matter how frequently they play.
"[If] you purchase the maximum six crates a week, you can expect roughly 2.4 of them to be Biker crates and 2.4 to be Desperado crates, on average," the outlet reports. "To purchase the 10,000 Biker crates that you'd expect to need for a single black Sleeveless Biker jacket would thus take 4,166 weeks, or just under 80 years. For the paid Desperado crates, it would take about five years of maximized crate purchases and $1,562.50, on average, before your first Leopard Cloth Mask showed up."
The outlet adds it'd take a total of 89.5 million BP to unlock all those Biker Crates, but says "that's actually not unreasonable over 80 years of dedicated play."
On the one hand, PUBG Corp. is being praised for its candid reveal of its game's odds – though that could be attributed to China and the Apple Store requiring loot box odds to be published. On the other hand, it begs the question: are these small odds set in place as incentive for players to pay real-world money for a cosmetic option they really want? As Polygon puts it, "When this latest patch arrives on live servers some time in the near future the plan is for some – but not all – crates to require a $2.50 key."
That's not to say the best items in Battlegrounds are hidden in odd-based loot crates, though. For the most determined players, individual sellers are selling rare items via Steam's Marketplace for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. As of writing, a bandanna is being sold for $820 USD, while a complete "PlayerUnknown Set" is going for as high as $1,930.74 USD. It's worth pointing out, all of these cosmetic options are merely that. They offer no in-game benefit at all.
Given the intense odds of these loot crates – coupled with the inclusion of crates purchasable in-game with real world money – it raises a question plaguing the game industry right now: is this a form of gambling?
“The ideal solution would be for the game industry to stop having gambling or gambling-like mechanics in games that are marketed to kids,” Hawaii State Rep. Sean Quinlan told Glixel back in November.
In the United States, Battlegrounds has an ESRB rating of Mature. The rating is meant to prohibit anyone under the age of 17 from playing a game – though it's more than to assume the game's played by plenty of children under 17. Even in an ideal scenario where the youngest player is 17, if the game was found to be implementing a gambling system, it'd still be illegal in the U.S. where the gambling age is either 18 or 21, depending on the state.
Right now, the talk about whether or not loot crates and the use of real-world money to buy them is just that. No real steps have been taken to regulate these systems or keep children away from engaging with them. So, for the time being, Battlegrounds players may be free to take their chances – financially or not – when trying to get a new black trench coat.