Rocket League (opens in new tab) has tossed out its loot box system entirely as of the latest update, which went live last night. Given the reputation of loot boxes, you might assume that this would be cause for the community to celebrate, but it looks like the replacement might actually be worse.
Update 1.70 (opens in new tab) gets rid of everything relating to crates and keys, replacing the system with a shop where you can spend credits on specific items, or you can use them to craft the new blueprints. The community aren't exactly convinced it's better value for money.
Previously, players would buy keys and, as this Reddit post (opens in new tab) notes, you'd get one crate, and thus one item, for every key. Because the results were random, you could get an extremely rare item, technically, for just over $1. The downside was that you could open 20 crates and not get anything you wanted, but you'd still have 20 items to show for it. With the new system, players could spend $20 on a single item.
Now your $1 will net you only the least desirable items, and you'll still need to shell out a minimum of $5 for 500 credits, the smallest bundle. You know exactly what you're getting, unlike the crates, but this transparency comes at a steep cost.
One of the shop's current featured items is a car that's being sold for 1,200 credits, which is technically just over $10, but you'll actually need to buy two bundles of credits, 500 and 1,100, if your balance is empty, costing you around $15. Some of these items have been in the game for years—with players trading them for a few keys each, worth a few bucks—but they're now being sold for nearly ten times that by Psyonix.
Rocket League isn't free-to-play, and you might end up spending the same amount on an item as a copy of the game. Some players are already predicting (opens in new tab) that this is the first move in Rocket League making the shift to free-to-play, however, and the shop certainly looks the part.
Generally, the mood on the Rocket League subreddit (opens in new tab) has turned pretty sour, with all of the top posts being extremely critical and one calling for the now traditional boycott (opens in new tab). I guess it is possible to make something less popular than loot boxes.