PUBG's loot box system is getting an overhaul, with locked crates set to be removed altogether. Not unlike CS:GO's system, these locked crates have always required a key to purchase, and keys can only be obtained with real world money: they cost $2.50 in-game, and at variable rates on the Steam Marketplace. But come December 18 they'll be obsolete.
This means all crate contents can now be unlocked using PUBG's BP currency, which is rewarded by the playing the game, unless you choose to purchase crates via the Steam Marketplace.
In a dev letter on the PUBG website (opens in new tab), the changes are explained in detail. Random crate purchases with BP will no longer have the chance to contain locked crates starting from December 18. Locked crates already owned will still operate in the same way into the future. The dev letter confirms that the probability of receiving locked crates has been "continuously" lowered for a while now, but since this hasn't solved the problem, they're nixing them altogether.
"The value of marketable loot box in PUBG is solely determined by the users and getting items through the marketplace or selling them back is also part of the PUBG experience," the update reads. "However, the value of the locked crates are very low among other PUBG items. This means that paid crates are not an appealing reward to players, making the experience of acquiring a locked crate less enjoyable."
The statement continues: "We have been thinking about this carefully and we want to ensure that we steer clear of revenue models that fail to satisfy fans, especially if they include a low success rate. We will continue to tweak our business model where possible to offer more compelling value for the money you choose to spend with us."
As for changes to BP crates, "more preferred skins" will appear in lower tiers, and AR category skins will be "evenly distributed" between all tiers of crate. Meanwhile, the "overall graphic quality" of crate skins has been improved, and the likelihood of obtaining middle tier crates has been increased by 20 percent. The top-tier crates are still hard to get (the statement doesn't specify the odds) but "they will still remain difficult to obtain".
Locked crates will no longer be available in PUBG beginning December 18, but they'll still be purchasable on the Steam Marketplace if they already exist, and keys will only be purchasable if a locked crate is in your inventory. On November 20 a new Venetian Crate will be released and will be available for a week. Details on that crate are on the website (opens in new tab).