Amid the divisive loot box trend, PC players have been finding their own way to deal, foremost in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. By using Cheat Engine scripts to give themselves unlimited Mirian, some players have found it's possible to buy a infinite supply of loot and war chests, drowning themselves in uruks and gear. In the NeoGAF thread that tipped us off, members are going back and forth on the ethics of the exploit, and sharing methods for pulling it off.
How Shadow of War's loot boxes work
To be clear, Miriam is not the premium currency that requires real money to purchase, and the silver tier of chests do not reward legendary uruks or gear—those are saved for crates you need to buy with Gold, the premium currency. But you can still accrue a formidable army and enough powerful gear to take on Shadow of War's greatest challenges with ease.
[Update: We've been told that silver war and loot chests can reward legendary items and uruks. They're just not guaranteed like the higher tiers, which means with enough persistence, the silver tier exploit can entirely supplant any need for the higher tier, premium boxes.]
The cheat is made possible using third-party tools like Cheat Engine to manipulate the game files, a common practice until the advent of online-everythings and microtransations. It's an especially strange cheat since the ability to give yourself infinite uruk friends and gear makes the presence of premium loot boxes in a single-player game stand out as totally unnecessary. They're there to make money. That's no surprise, but the exploit diminishes the value proposition of the premium crates, which are already a questionable addition.
But is changing the value of a free in-game currency using cheats to earn unlimited digital items wrong if it shares the same market and item pool with the premium currency and loot? Is it theft, or is it up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A?
With microtransactions effectively tripling the value of the game industry in recent years, I wouldn't be surprised to see publishers take action against such exploits, even if cheat codes and digging through game files are an ages old hobbyist tradition.
We don't condone altering game files without first considering the effects it could have on your save files and any possible legal repercussions. To get clarification on the latter point, we've reached out to WB and will update if we get a response.