Back in April, Warner Bros. announced that they would remove microtransactions from Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Yesterday, a major patch was rolled out that made their removal official.
End of an Age
When Middle-Earth: Shadow of War released back in October last year, it became notorious for being a AAA game with loot boxes. Players could spend real money on in-game gold to buy boxes that contain equipment and orcs. With this patch, gold is no longer a resource in the game, and any gold players had was instantly converted into boxes that contain equipment. The only currency in the game now is Mirian. You can still buy Training Orders to modify your existing orcs.
In addition, the patch rebalances several different features in the game. The patch shortens the post-ending Shadow Wars mode and introduces a new Endless mode. For those that go into Shadow Wars, players will be able to gain new special gear and some new dialogue sequences. Progression and leveling has also been given an overhaul. The player and their orcs have level caps of 80 and 85 and certain activities give more XP. Mirian can also be spent to upgrade your favorite outdated gear to your current level. Finally, the Nemesis system got a few tweaks. Legendary orcs can show up more often, your followers may bring you Worms to drain for intel, and necromancer-type enemies can flex those skills and resurrect themselves when killed.
The Reasoning Behind the Change
What brought about this change? Jason Schreier from Kotaku has an idea:
Like most game publishers, Warner Bros. does not share its sales data, but there are a couple of clues out there. One is that in October 2017, Shadow of War was the top seller on NPD, beating out Assassin’s Creed Origins among other games. In November, Shadow of War fell to 12. The other clue is that according to recently leaked Steam data, Shadow of War has sold roughly 952,284 copies on PC, less than Origins (1,030,581) and significantly less than Shadow of Mordor (4,468,234).
The article suggests that the loot boxes were pulled because initially strong sales tailed off. The kind of thing that could happen if a highly-hyped game turns out to be full of microtransactions. Who knows how Warner Bros. will handle them in the future?
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