Loot boxes have become a core concept in modern gaming as a way to reward players with new items. The anticipation when you pop open these little virtual presents has proved immense, with the concept spreading across multiple titles and genres. However, there’s only one company that brings that same feeling to the real world: Loot Crate.
Since 2012, the company has been curating and delivering its titular Loot Crates to its subscriber base – some 14m boxes to date. From just a single offering to a wide range of regular and one-off crates, the company has expanded hugely, with gaming being one of its key areas.
The company is always on the lookout to work with the best brand-owners and merchandise providers, so we talked to Loot Crate’s Sarah Clark (pictured right), general manager of Europe, to find out what’s coming out of Loot Crate next.
How would you describe Loot Crate for those who haven’t heard of you?
Loot Crate is a leading subscription commerce platform targeting super fans of entertainment franchises. We partner with major studios, game companies, comics publishers, professional sports leagues and personalities in the shared curation of premium and exclusive consumer products in themed mystery boxes, delivered directly to subscribers’ doorsteps. Loot Crate was ranked the No.1 fastest-growing private company by Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5,000 as well as No.1 on Deloitte’s Fast 500 list for 2016. It’s like having a mate who knows you really well put together a mystery gift box which is delivered to your house once a month.
What game brands are you working with now?
We work with a huge number and range of publishers, studios and indies. The brands in this month’s gaming crate will include Destiny, Borderlands and Prey. We also curate crates for individual games, such as Halo, Fallout, Call of Duty and Minecraft.
What kind of gaming brands work well for the Loot Crate model?
We try to mix it up with a mix of gear, from new games and franchises, old skool classics and fan favourites. Our Looters give us constant feedback on which items and brands they want to see in future crates.
Many Loot Crates are on subscription. How does this change the relationship with the consumer compared to typical merchandise buyers?
Our Looters trust us to provide a crate that they will love every month on an ongoing basis, so it’s more like a committed relationship than a first date. It’s a big responsibility, and why our community is so important. We want to surprise and delight our Looters, so the relationship goes beyond the delivery of the crate. We provide them with content we generate in Loot Studios and out-of-box experiences; different ways to access to the entertainment they love are absolutely as important as the crates themselves.
Our mission is to add to the fan experience, so Loot Crate’s business revolves around our Looter community rather than the other way around. They drive the content of the crates through constant communication and feedback.
We do appreciate that some potential subscribers don’t want to commit long term or want to experience Loot Crate before committing, so we offer a range of options from buying one-off crates through to 12-month subscriptions.
The selection of crates has expanded a lot. How and why did this happen?
Loot Crate as a business grew incredibly fast because we offered a product that really resonated with a specific group of consumers (including ourselves). Everyone in this company is a fan with their own individual geekdoms and passions – just like our consumers. We started expanding our crate lines because our rapidly growing community told us that was what they wanted.
Boxes of ‘random’ merch seem to have become very popular at consumer shows. How do Loot Crates differ from these?
There’s a big difference between a Loot Crate and a ‘random’ merch offering. We don’t put items in our crates because a manufacturer has an overstock or we can get a good price deal – that doesn’t fly with us as fans ourselves. Everything Loot Crate does is deliberate. We work with brands our Looters tell us they want, we design and create exclusive items that are beyond the usual merch lines and cannot be bought at retail. 95 per cent of the content in every box is fully exclusive to us.
Our mission is to add to the fan experience, so Loot Crate’s business revolves around our community.
Sarah Clark, Loot Crate
We curate each box around a theme and we listen to feedback. Nothing about what we do is random. Consistency in value and quality is incredibly important. It drives the trust needed for a subscription business. The gaming crate subscription starts at £28 per month but the actual value of the content is more than £45.
How important is social media and unboxing to your marketing?
It’s pretty rare to create an offering that consumers get so excited about that it becomes a priority for them to share it. Social media and our Looters’ love of unboxing videos has been the driving force behind our marketing success. Word of mouth is the most persuasive element in a marketer’s tool kit, and when you have an army of passionate consumers that love your product and want to share their monthly experience, you do everything you can to enable and facilitate them to do just that.
In a world where people laser target every consumer decision, do you think the surprise nature of a Loot Crate is somewhat liberating?
Absolutely. In a world of constant communication where secrets are hard to keep, information flow is managed and internet spoilers are commonplace, the element of surprise is rare. Some of the best feedback we get is when Looters find something in the box that they didn’t expect or even know they wanted until they lifted the lid. Our mix of established and new release merchandise also contributes to the element of surprise. We’ll often get comments that fans discovered a new game or re-discovered an old one because an item included in the crate piqued their interest.