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Middle-earth: Shadow of War ripping out microtransactions and loot boxes

The turn of the tide.

Loot boxes (War Chests) and nearly everything associated with them are being ripped from Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

The ability to spend real-world money on game gold will be removed - for good - 8th May, and gold, War Chests and the Market will be permanently removed 17th July.

The slightly different Loot Chests will remain but you won't be able to buy them; you will only be able to earn them through Online Conquests and Online Vendettas.

"The core promise of the Nemesis System is the ability to build relationships with your personal allies and enemies in a dynamic open world," explained developer Monolith. "While purchasing orcs in the Market is more immediate and provides additional player options, we have come to realise that providing this choice risked undermining the heart of our game, the Nemesis System.

"It allows you to miss out on the awesome player stories you would have otherwise created, and it compromises those same stories even if you don't buy anything. Simply being aware that they are available for purchase reduces the immersion in the world and takes away from the challenge of building your personal army and your fortresses.

"In order to fully restore the core promise of the Nemesis System, we'll be permanently removing gold, War Chests and the Market from Shadow of War. This means the option to purchase gold with real-world money and the ability to gain orc followers from War Chests will be removed. There will be a specific amount of time given for players to utilise their unused gold. If players have unused gold by the end of the time allotted to spend it, any remaining gold will be converted to in-game items."

There is a dedicated FAQ covering the changes.

Watch on YouTube

Monolith also announced plans to add more narrative elements and streamlining to the Shadow Wars part of the game's campaign. That's in addition to gameplay improvements, new skins, skill tree additions, gear system upgrades and progression updates to come. And all of this will be free.

Monolith's announcement comes six months after Shadow of War was released but only a few weeks after EA DICE revealed how it will remove paid loot boxes from Star Wars Battlefront 2. The timing cannot be a coincidence; both games were embroiled in last autumn's loot box furore, and the debate around their greedy systems consumed them - though Battlefront 2's unavoidable loot boxes rightly bore the brunt of the controversy. Perhaps EA allowing DICE to remove microtransactions convinced Warner Bros. to allow Monolith to do the same.

Whatever the series of events, both games appear determined to win back the soured support of their communities, committing to free additional content long after their respective turns in the spotlight. There's a "glimmer of hope" Star Wars Battlefront 2 will yet find its "true identity", wrote Martin recently, and perhaps Middle-earth: Shadow of War will go on to do the same.

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