Call of Duty Mobile got a paid loot box disguised as a Halloween themed event recently. It has four items in purple (Epic) category, out of which the most appealing two have roughly 21 and 14 times lower drop rate than the rest.
When is a loot box not a loot box? Perhaps when it’s called a “themed event” with accusations of a predatory buying mechanic and some slightly less-than-clear drop rates.
Call of Duty Mobile’s paid-for Halloween-themed seasonal event has four items a lot of us are going to want: a mix of an Uncommon green (one), Rare blue (five), and Epic purple (four) skins and customisations.
Activision said drop rates range from 12% for Uncommon over Epic's 42% to Rare's 46%. However longtime CoD Mobile leak source StealthBubble claimed that a code snippet he revealed showed the drop rates of the most appealing Epic items were actually a miserable 3% and 2%.
In the Halloween Lucky Draw, the themed loot drop mechanic, players pay premium currency to have a spin at a wheel. The first spin costs 40 premium currency, ramping up to a whopping 10,000 for the final spin. That's roughly $100.
Here is how it works. If the item you want doesn’t drop, the odds on it dropping on your next spin get a little better in your favour since there are no duplicates, and you are guaranteed to get the lot after 10 spins. Sounds good.
The two juiciest items are an Epic skeleton print character skin (3% chance of dropping according to StealthBubble), and a Pumpkin Head AK-47 camo (claimed 2% drop rate). A virtually endless list of YouTube videos of the Lucky Draw testifies to these claims though, as over 30 examples showed the coveted two drops coming in last, on 9th and 10th spin.
And with those lengthy initial claimed odds for the two most sought-after Epics, one curious YouTuber named PickRickle calculated you could pay over 23,000 CoD points (~$250) to be sure of getting the Epics you want. It's difficult to gauge the exact amount of money spent due to the way conversion to premium currency works in different packages and their associated bonuses.
Activision have history here of course and are no stranger to interesting monetisation via loot boxes with equally curious drop and fulfilment rates. For example in late 2017 Destiny 2 was showing differing displayed and actual accrual rates, cutting XP gains to perhaps motivate players to just stump up some currency to speed Bright Engram drop rates. They adjusted the drop rates after players figured it out, saying it was an error.
It’s easy to say that this situation looks like it would prey on the sunk cost fallacy , and looks downright predatory. If it is, expect a slew of reports to the Play Store, or App Store.
Activision didn't post an official statement on the situation at the time of writing.