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On Lottery (RNG) Boxes


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#1 MazingerZ

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 07:32 PM

Posted to GW2 Forums, I don't expect it to last.  Please comment there as well.

TLDR: Points are boiled down here, but I encourage you to ready the body.

The Right to Make Money

No one is arguing against any individual or company’s right to make money.  What is generally a point of contention is how that money is made.  If oil was a clean, safe resource to produce, with absolutely no environmental impacts and operated in more of an open market than say, OPEC, there would be very few people who could complain about how they do business.  If the market crash had not occurred due to irresponsible lending and selling of securities, no one would have an issue with how much money the banking industry makes.

What this piece attempts to do is describe how poorly these practices are for consumers (ie: you) not just in terms of yourself, but for the game as a whole, and your fellow players.

More Money than a Flat Rate?

The product could in theory be sold on the  Cash Shop for a flat rate, especially if they are already being offered for a limited time.  The question becomes, why not?

There are various reasons.  The return on investment (ROI) of the lottery boxes is higher than that of a flat rate.  The cost of a flat rate in order to equal the return that the lottery boxes provide, a flat rate would appear to be too expensive, with too large of a price tag to pay in one expense.  This goes towards the wedge of individual experience, further below.

If it were a flat rate, you could determine whether you liked the product enough for it to be worth the flat rate quoted.  Or you could consider the product to be worth no money at all, at which point the company has lost your sale and has to make up the difference from a user who wants the product.

The drop rates are unknown until someone bothers to invest and do the research, either by grinding a lot of boxes or buying them outright, the latter of which is a net-positive for the company.  And by the time the results are recorded and posted, the company has already seen sales from consumers assuming that the drop rate cannot be that bad.

The Wedges of "Individual Experience" and "Personal Responsibility"

Divisiveness is the greatest weapon of any entity against a collective to shield from its greatest weakness. You want the populace to be split on issues because if a high percentage of the body every aligns itself against you, you will feel its effects.

The randomness of these boxes creates a variable experience.  However unlikely it is, it is possible for a lucky person to get the products he needs by opening a mere ten boxes.  Suddenly, his experience is “this is the best thing EVER.”  For another individual, they could open box upon box upon box and spend a large amount of money without getting a single claim ticket.

Since experiences vary, its harder to reach a consensus on drop rates.  There will be people satisfied with their experience and others who feel as if its unfair.  Some will be accused of merely being “unlucky.”  Some will engage ad hominem, attacking other consumers for buying so many boxes irresponsibly, despite that being the intent of the company.  Strife ensues and its much harder to direct blame against one specific entity as the customers squabble amongst one another.

It is therefore much harder to get consensus on implementation than if the product had a flat rate.

They benefit from these wedges to keep their customer-base from coming to a consensus on anything, even as far as debate the value of the implementation instead of the value of the product being offered for the price.

Instilling Urgency Artificially: Limited-Time Offers

If you could just grind these out through normal activity (gameplay), there are always going to be those who stick with the grind over the shortcut of buying the product outright.  So to convert even a tiny percentage of those people (a net positive for the company), the company has a limited time offer on the product.  That is greed.  The limited time offer on the product is nothing more than a trick, to artificially give a sense of urgency.

In games like Tribes: Ascend everyone can get access to everything.  If just takes time.  You can choose to grind it out or you can buy it outright.  There is no limited time offer.  There are sales to incentivize a period where you would like to see more income, but a gun in Tribes: Ascend is never going to disappear because you did not buy it this month. It is a psychological trick meant to make you spend more money, and is an anti-consumer practice.

This operates much like the Disney Vault, in which Disney only releases a movie for a limited time every seven years or so on home media.  This increases the scarcity of the movie and instills urgency to purchase the movie when it eventually becomes available.

Worse than Gambling

Gambling can be viewed as an experience. You play the game and the money is the barrier for playing the game, with more money as a reward for winning.  One usually goes in knowing that you will likely lose money, but there's also a chance you could come out of ahead.  It can get impersonal, such as with video poker machines or slot machines, but generally, it's an experience at playing a game of chance.

Common wisdom is that the results are stacked in the house's favor, and there is generally a poor outlook on people who think they can regularly come out ahead by playing, or in other words, playing to win.

Or going to a Dave & Buster’s (or Chuck E. Cheese’s).  Sure, you may be attempting to win tickets for a particular prize, but you are usually paying as much for the experience of playing the games themselves.  You get the experience.  It is a poor value and poor sense to play at these places just to win tickets and win prizes, especially without a particularly good run of luck, you would end up buying the prize outright than trying to win it with tickets.

But these lottery boxes are different.  You are not paying to gamble for the experience, generally.  There is actually no experience, or at least less of one.  The similarity is very much like buying a box of cereal you hate because it has an item you really want.  At that point, you are just ripping open the box, pouring out the cereal for the product and potentially getting nothing for your trouble.  Rinse and repeat ad nauseum until the limited time offer (artificially created sense of urgency) expires or you get the prize you want.

The Company’s Gamble

The company has its own gamble going.

It is relying on the obfuscated nature of its game of chance, with its accompanying ability to change the odds at their leisure, to keep its customer base arguing and speculating over the factual details as much as the subjective details.  If you knew all the details, it would be much easier to base an argument for (or against) purchasing the product outright and there would be less coloring and argument from individual experiences.

It is relying on the artificial sense of urgency to push people into buying the product without spending a lot of time thinking about it, as well as pushing those who attempted grind it out to ultimately buy into the lottery boxes from the Cash Shop at the eleventh hour.

It is relying on human nature.  There are people out there who are gullible, naive, have little foresight and in some cases, an addiction to gambling.  These people with a clinical lack of self-control who will hand over money to engage in this process in hopes of getting the rush of a win.

Defending the Indefensible

The fact of the matter is that there will always be people attempting to defend these practices.  Usually, the sum of the arguments is that the company has a right to make money.  But why?  Why are these practices worthy of money?  And why do these people, who can only benefit as a consumer if these practices were revised to be less abusive, defend them?  Why implement these practices over a flat rate, offered through the Cash Shop, unless this lottery box implementation makes more money.

I tend to look towards a rather quotable piece of TotalBiscuit:

What the hell happened to gamers looking out for each other?  When did that suddenly fall by the wayside in favor of being an unemployed PR representative for a company that has been milking you for money?  When did this happen? Was this with the advent of the Internet?  Is this a recent thing?  I can’t exactly pinpoint when it happened, but fanboy culture has gotten to the point of being actively detrimental to video games.  It benefits nobody whatsoever other than the companies in question.

It’s wonderful that they’ve got a small little army of people that are willing to actively suppress dissent.  Actively lie about the game.  Actively try to character assassinate people.  Engage in ad hominems.  Slam them over social networks.  Downvote videos.  Lie in the comments section.  It’s wonderful if they’re willing to do that, if you happen to be [the company] or any other company that has people like that.  It’s terrible for the rest of us.  It’s really really bad.



Gamers don’t look out for each other anymore.  And that’s really depressing.  The last thing that should be happening is gamers actively trying to mislead other gamers because they want to feel better about their purchase.  Or because they want more players in their game, even though the game is clearly not up to spec.  Where do you get off doing that?  That is morally bankrupt.  That is ethically unsound in the worst possible way.  It sucks, and you suck for doing it.


People who defend these practices want the games they play to succeed regardless of how the company in question behaves, because they have some investment.  They either want the game to have more players, be more successful so it will stick around for a long time, get more development, release expansions, etc, etc.

TLDR: Ultimately, it boils down to the idea that the lottery boxes offer a better return on investment than just simply slapping a flat rate on the product.  It adds nothing to the product itself and is just a method for increasing profits, without doing anything.  It is a form of predation on consumers, it should not be tolerated, but there will always be people willing to defend a company’s decision either out of apathy, a belief it does not nor will ever affect them or some other selfish reason.

Edit: I lost a ton of formatting moving from Google Docs, and I'm adding it back in.

Edited by MazingerZ, 16 May 2013 - 12:29 AM.

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Every patch is like ArenaNet walking out onto the stage of the International Don't Kitten Up Championship, and then proceeding to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"

#2 El Duderino

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 07:59 PM

It's smart psychology by ArenaNet to pad their own pockets. I mean, let's face it, no matter how many people here want to disagree, the accumulation of in game "gear" as it represents a status symbol, especially in a socially focused game like an MMO, is perhaps the biggest competition between PvE players.

So now take the psychological DESIRE for status and couple that with the psychological aspect of gambling, both as it relates to behaviorism (see: Skinner Box) and the fact that gambling addiction is a disease - and you have what amounts to a full fledged ethical dilemma.

Yes, people don't have to buy the boxes. But, that is not the question. The question is whether it is ethical to incorporate two giant psychological attractions to basically take advantage of the weak willed players in the game merely for profit.

Also, let's not assume that just because a company needs to profit, that is the answer to that question. There are plenty of ways to create profit without lowering oneself to exploiting your player base.

I just imagine the developers thinking "a fool and his money are soon parted" right as they hit the button to launch the new update.

#3 Jairyn

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:05 PM

I would love to see more players united against the lockboxes. They are predatory and manipulative in the very same way that combining a gear treadmill and a subscription fee is... Yet ArenaNet cheerfully waxed poetic on how unscrupulous the P2P market is. GW1 had an "honest" cash shop based on flat fees and a fair amount of my anticipation for GW2 was partly based on the assurance that the cash shop would mirror its predecessor. GW1 did just fine with an honest cash-for-(digital) goods system, why are we now tolerating anything different?

I have yet to buy a key or lockbox, though I've otherwise purchased gems and gem store items. I want Arena Net to do well, I want to support them, I want them to have the funds to pay happy, healthy workers and flood the game with polish and content. I don't want them to employ shady marketing practices.

Ship Crystin Cox back to NCSoft (edit: Nexon? whatever - MapleStory) where she belongs.

Edited by Jairyn, 15 May 2013 - 08:08 PM.


#4 Longasc

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:13 PM

There are strict laws on gambling. But there are no laws on lockboxes, arguably even worse than many forms of highly restricted gambling. I wonder when this will change.

Till then almost every F2P game out there will continue will lockbox mechanic driven gambling and so far no company bothered to reveal the odds. It's not only GW2 making use of this scheme.

#5 Gabrial Heart

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:35 PM

Thank you for this extremely well-written piece. This is one of the best explainations of why this practice is so short-sighted and completely rediculous. I often get flack for posting on the official forums from defenders of this practice and it's all quite silly.

I can whole-hearted say i will not participate in this type of content and hope more people step up and do the same. It's about time to speak with your wallets against this type of practice.

#6 chullster

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:55 PM

Other than the original purchase price, I've not and will never use real money on gems for this game while they use RNG to determine if you receive what you want to buy. eg. I'd like 2 of the new dagger skins, only an idiot would buy gems to get lockboxes that are not certain to contain the tokens with some other RNG bits thrown in as extras. So why bother buying gems? seems like madness. If I could buy access to the skins with either gems or real money, then I'd be tempted.

I spent real money on GW1 extras like character slots and expansions, buying something clearly stated and receiving it with no RNG involved.

I think it's great that I can purchase all those things in GW2 with in game money, though I think they've shot themselves in the foot with me as I have no other reason to purchase gems now with real money.

The whole inclusion of RNG just stinks of money grabbing and puts me off wanting to buy things "to support the company" and I can't out right buy what I want anyway, surely putting people spending money this way is detrimental to a company.

Unless there's enough idiots spending real money on RNG stuff to make them think it's a good idea, sadly I think this is reality.

#7 dannywolt

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:46 PM

View PostMazingerZ, on 15 May 2013 - 07:32 PM, said:

More Money than a Flat Rate?

The product could in theory be sold on the  Cash Shop for a flat rate, especially if they are already being offered for a limited time.  The question becomes, why not?

There are various reasons.  The return on investment (ROI) of the lottery boxes is higher than that of a flat rate.  The cost of a flat rate in order to equal the return that the lottery boxes provide, a flat rate would appear to be too expensive, with too large of a price tag to pay in one expense.  This goes towards the wedge of individual experience, further below.

If it were a flat rate, you could determine whether you liked the product enough for it to be worth the flat rate quoted.  Or you could consider the product to be worth no money at all, at which point the company has lost your sale and has to make up the difference from a user who wants the product.

The drop rates are unknown until someone bothers to invest and do the research, either by grinding a lot of boxes or buying them outright, the latter of which is a net-positive for the company.  And by the time the results are recorded and posted, the company has already seen sales from consumers assuming that the drop rate cannot be that bad.

You overlooked a huge reason for hiding skins behind RNG: artificial scarcity. If skins are sold at a reasonably low flat rate, the sudden influx of skins into the game will kill much of the appeal. Many players want to be unique. Look at legendaries: Initially everyone wanted one; now they are common enough that players who can afford them are losing the desire. I'm not a big fan of RNG, but making every special skin freely available isn't the answer.

View PostMazingerZ, on 15 May 2013 - 07:32 PM, said:

Instilling Urgency Artificially: Limited-Time Offers

If you could just grind these out through normal activity (gameplay), there are always going to be those who stick with the grind over the shortcut of buying the product outright.  So to convert even a tiny percentage of those people (a net positive for the company), the company has a limited time offer on the product.  That is greed.  The limited time offer on the product is nothing more than a trick, to artificially give a sense of urgency.

In games like Tribes: Ascend everyone can get access to everything.  If just takes time.  You can choose to grind it out or you can buy it outright.  There is no limited time offer.  There are sales to incentivize a period where you would like to see more income, but a gun in Tribes: Ascend is never going to disappear because you did not buy it this month. It is a psychological trick meant to make you spend more money, and is an anti-consumer practice.

This operates much like the Disney Vault, in which Disney only releases a movie for a limited time every seven years or so on home media.  This increases the scarcity of the movie and instills urgency to purchase the movie when it eventually becomes available.

As referenced above, I honestly think limited-time availability is good. The Fused weapon skins are a prime example. When they first appeared in-game, they were an object of envy for many players, myself included. But time wore on and the appeal began to fade as more and more players obtained them. When I started playing GW2, I believed everyone should be able to obtain everything. I am now convinced that everyone should have the opportunity to obtain something if they commit the effort needed, but that opportunity should not last forever.

View PostMazingerZ, on 15 May 2013 - 07:32 PM, said:

It is a form of predation on consumers, it should not be tolerated, but there will always be people willing to defend a company’s decision either out of apathy, a belief it does not nor will ever affect them or some other selfish reason.

You had a quality post going until this. A preemptive personal attack on everyone who disagrees with you? Poor form...

I don't think that limited-time RNG boxes are ideal, but I have yet to hear a reasonable alternative plan that maintains scarcity and high appeal for skins. Even in GW1, the desired items were prohibitively expensive for the average player. Would pricing skins at 2400 gems ($30 or 75g) be acceptable or would this discussion simply be how A-Net was ripping-off everyone with the gem store? I don't see a perfect solution, so which necessary evil do we choose? That's a matter of personal preference.

View PostJairyn, on 15 May 2013 - 08:05 PM, said:

Ship Crystin Cox back to NCSoft (edit: Nexon? whatever - MapleStory) where she belongs.

This again... please stop hating on Crystin Cox. Do you honestly think she came into A-Net and imposed her way of doing things against their will? A-Net hired her because they wanted her approach. Hate the corporation if you want, but not the individual.

#8 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:02 PM

Well, they need to destroy those "free" gems somehow.



View Postdannywolt, on 15 May 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

I don't think that limited-time RNG boxes are ideal, but I have yet to hear a reasonable alternative plan that maintains scarcity and high appeal for skins. Even in GW1, the desired items were prohibitively expensive for the average player. Would pricing skins at 2400 gems ($30 or 75g) be acceptable or would this discussion simply be how A-Net was ripping-off everyone with the gem store? I don't see a perfect solution, so which necessary evil do we choose? That's a matter of personal preference.

The difference being that GW1 skins were in-game items (at least the ones you are talking about), whereas GW2 skins are cash shop items: high-end skins in GW1 were something you played for, "high-end" GW2 skins are something you pay for.

#9 El Duderino

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:02 PM

View Postdannywolt, on 15 May 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

Snip

You are right, there is something good about having weapons that have a high scarcity. However, everyone should have a chance at getting a weapon of that scarcity without resorting to lockbox RNG.

Here is a solution:

Make them trade-able. If I am not mistaken, these things are account bound until equipped, correct? Well, in GW1 there were still tons of scarce weapons that could be bought/traded. This solution gets around the gem store option because it doesn't artificially add more weapons into the game with more purchases. Sure, money can be converted to gold, but the scarcity remains the same because the weapons still have a limited amount available. Plus, the market will adjust the price to reflect the actual value. Chances are that these weapons will be in the same vicinity as precursors price-wise. Also, it gets around the fact that someone shouldn't spend $500 and have nothing to show for it. That kind of RNG is just flithy.

Next, remove the RNG style boxes and up the chance of dropping just a smidgeon. You can still keep it limited in time.

What does this do? Well, it makes the game more fun. Who wants to run around for 3 hours and not get one box? Make the boxes drop - give people a reason to play. Getting a chance of rewards is FUN! That is the reason they pray on people to buy the boxes, because they can't help themselves to the fun which is gambling. Make the game about being fun - not using fun against us to get in our wallets.

Well, what about ANet, how do they profit from this? The answer is indirectly. More people playing, more gold sunk into new weapons - all means more opportunity for people to use the gem store for gold. Not to mention the fact that this isn't a F2P game. They already made around $180m just on game purchases. They can afford to keep making the game (and maybe even an expansion) by doing the same things they did in GW1 - which was give us modest beneficial things in the cash shop. Of course, this is assuming that they want to make a good game and aren't just a cash cow for NCSoft who could care less about doing the right thing.

#10 madmaxII

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:05 PM

Actually, I would have no problem spending some money on their gem shop stuff if they would improve the game in return. However, what Anet has done primarily in the last months is creating short-time content that promotes their actual gem store specials. There is so much room for improvement in the game and they can't be bothered to do something about it. At this point, it does feel like they don't even care about the "core" game anymore. There are some band-aid changes for some of the totally broken things every now and then and that's it.

#11 FoxBat

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:07 PM

It needs to be pointed out that "artificial scarcity" isn't a bad thing in video games. The whole economy is artificial, things only have value because of arbitrary scarcity, and progression/grind vanish when they don't. It's also arbitrary to decide that grinding in a limited time frame (like SAB skins) is somehow inherently more evil than something like legendaries which require vastly more grind, but are always available. The goal of both is to simply get you to run the treadmill after all.

View Postdannywolt, on 15 May 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

I don't think that limited-time RNG boxes are ideal, but I have yet to hear a reasonable alternative plan that maintains scarcity and high appeal for skins. Even in GW1, the desired items were prohibitively expensive for the average player. Would pricing skins at 2400 gems ($30 or 75g) be acceptable or would this discussion simply be how A-Net was ripping-off everyone with the gem store? I don't see a perfect solution, so which necessary evil do we choose? That's a matter of personal preference.

In Halloween the rare skins were tradeable. So you'd have a population gambling on boxes hoping to get something valuable (even if just to sell), and a population that would drop huge sums of gold on a item if it was guaranteed. This is something like how collectible card games work. This model I'd be OK with, since you have a choice on how to acquire some stupidly rare items, and gamblers would have an idea on their odds and return on investment from market prices. Unfortunately the fused weapons model is what we are currently working with, which makes the rare skins obtainable only by gambling.

Edited by FoxBat, 15 May 2013 - 10:19 PM.


#12 Jairyn

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:14 PM

View Postdannywolt, on 15 May 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

This again... please stop hating on Crystin Cox. Do you honestly think she came into A-Net and imposed her way of doing things against their will? A-Net hired her because they wanted her approach. Hate the corporation if you want, but not the individual.
Sorry, but I recently acquired a tinfoil hat and think Nexon's 15% share of NCSoft had perhaps more to do with it than legitimate desire.

Even so, the lockboxes are kind of her thing since the previously mentioned MapleStory so why they brought her on notwithstanding, they are "her" idea and a rejection of it (fantasizing here, obviously) coinciding with her sacking would not be uncommon in the business world. New monetization scheme = new monetization manager.

In the interests of civility it is, however, likely better to focus on the ideology than the person. Further railing against Crystin Cox will do little, but if people want a name for who's at fault, Cox and Nexon should probably be the first in line.

#13 NuclearDonut

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:30 PM

Manzinger, is it possible for you to throw this on the official forums? I'm sure it'll get nuked right away, but it's worth a shot to get more attention. This is probably the most professional explanation of why this practice needs to stop. I don't want to see ANet fall, and I also agree with the person that pointed out Kristin Cox. ANet would have never done this cash shop nonsense in GW1, the cash shop items were always up-front and honest. I don't want to see ANet fall any lower, something has to change.

#14 dannywolt

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:38 PM

View PostEl Duderino, on 15 May 2013 - 10:02 PM, said:

Well, what about ANet, how do they profit from this? The answer is indirectly. More people playing, more gold sunk into new weapons - all means more opportunity for people to use the gem store for gold. Not to mention the fact that this isn't a F2P game. They already made around $180m just on game purchases. They can afford to keep making the game (and maybe even an expansion) by doing the same things they did in GW1 - which was give us modest beneficial things in the cash shop. Of course, this is assuming that they want to make a good game and aren't just a cash cow for NCSoft who could care less about doing the right thing.

I agree that the GW1 model was great, but I'm not entirely convinced that a game developer with 300+ employees can continue (or be permitted by NCsoft) to provide monthly free content without a constant source of revenue. Regardless of what the ideal situation would be, NCsoft wants a profit from GW2 so relying solely on box sales is not an option.


View PostFoxBat, on 15 May 2013 - 10:07 PM, said:

In Halloween the rare skins were tradeable. So you'd have a population gambling on boxes hoping to get something valuable (even if just to sell), and a population that would drop huge sums of gold on a item if it was guaranteed. This is something like how collectible card games work. This model I'd be OK with, since you have a choice on how to acquire some stupidly rare items, and gamblers would have an idea on their odds and return on investment from market prices. Unfortunately the fused weapons model is what we are currently working with, which makes the rare skins obtainable only by gambling.

I would totally go for this and think it would be the best choice all things considered. It doesn't eliminate the RNG boxes like the OP wants, but would make them much more acceptable. A-Net would continue to profit from the boxes and players would have an alternate method of acquiring special skins.

View PostJairyn, on 15 May 2013 - 10:14 PM, said:

Sorry, but I recently acquired a tinfoil hat and think Nexon's 15% share of NCSoft had perhaps more to do with it than legitimate desire.

"Anet we have no connection to Nexon in terms of development direction or at all as far as i know." - Chris Whiteside

If you still buy into the conspiracy theory, ... well I have nothing more to say.

#15 El Duderino

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:41 PM

View Postdannywolt, on 15 May 2013 - 10:38 PM, said:

I agree that the GW1 model was great, but I'm not entirely convinced that a game developer with 300+ employees can continue (or be permitted by NCsoft) to provide monthly free content without a constant source of revenue. Regardless of what the ideal situation would be, NCsoft wants a profit from GW2 so relying solely on box sales is not an option.

But, there are plenty of profits to be made without RNG style lockboxes. The whole cash shop is still there to be used. I don't see how it is either have the RNG boxes or don't have any profits. Surely, that is not what you are saying.

#16 dannywolt

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 11:03 PM

View PostEl Duderino, on 15 May 2013 - 10:41 PM, said:

But, there are plenty of profits to be made without RNG style lockboxes. The whole cash shop is still there to be used. I don't see how it is either have the RNG boxes or don't have any profits. Surely, that is not what you are saying.

No, this reply was primarily in response to the idea of moving skin acquisition out of the gem store into the game. I couldn't tell for sure from your post, but it sounded like direct monetization of skins would be removed completely. Short of adding more convenience boosts (which bring out the P2W cries), cosmetic skins are the primary revenue source in the gem shop. We have already agreed that a degree of scarcity is good in regards to special skins, so we must choose between trickling them in with RNG boxes or pricing them at a prohibitively high rate. I would lean towards high flat rates unless the RNG skins are tradable, but both options have drawbacks.

#17 El Duderino

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 11:07 PM

View Postdannywolt, on 15 May 2013 - 11:03 PM, said:

No, this reply was primarily in response to the idea of moving skin acquisition out of the gem store into the game. I couldn't tell for sure from your post, but it sounded like direct monetization of skins would be removed completely. Short of adding more convenience boosts (which bring out the P2W cries), cosmetic skins are the primary revenue source in the gem shop. We have already agreed that a degree of scarcity is good in regards to special skins, so we must choose between trickling them in with RNG boxes or pricing them at a prohibitively high rate. I would lean towards high flat rates unless the RNG skins are tradable, but both options have drawbacks.

I suppose if they could be bought in the store, it would make the RNG style lockboxes a better overall system, similar to what FoxBat mentioned.

Although, armor skins always seem to me to be the kind of thing you can stick in a cash shop and people will buy it no matter what. I was always a fan of weapons being epic drops as it seems much easier to flood the game with rare/scarce weapons than trying to do the same with armor. Eventually, I think armor doesn't have that negative appeal from lack of scarcity that weapons do and people are willing to pay to look good provided they like the look.

EDIT: Flood may not be the right word, but I hope you get what I'm saying. Having lots of different scarce weapon drops in game and leaving armor for cash shop seems reasonable without affecting the "scarcity quotient" for weapons which we agree on.

Edited by El Duderino, 15 May 2013 - 11:08 PM.


#18 the_brolice

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 11:34 PM

The funny thing about this controversy is that it is not an argument of anti-RNG against pro-RNG.  There is no significant faction that loves the RNG, or even at least thinks it is necessary in the cash shop.

Rather, this non-traditional argument occurs between what is purportedly the anti-RNG crowd v. .... who??  The "anti-RNG" crowd just sets up strawmen (save compulsive gamblers from the  predatory RNG!  I'm sure Anet knows how many swimming pools of money they're making off of the casino/sportsbook gamblers in their video game!), in their fight against ... who??

#19 MazingerZ

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:29 AM

View PostNuclearDonut, on 15 May 2013 - 10:30 PM, said:

Manzinger, is it possible for you to throw this on the official forums? I'm sure it'll get nuked right away, but it's worth a shot to get more attention. This is probably the most professional explanation of why this practice needs to stop. I don't want to see ANet fall, and I also agree with the person that pointed out Kristin Cox. ANet would have never done this cash shop nonsense in GW1, the cash shop items were always up-front and honest. I don't want to see ANet fall any lower, something has to change.

Done.  Expect it to not last the night.  In fact, post when it's removed.

Edited by MazingerZ, 16 May 2013 - 12:29 AM.

It's okay to enjoy crap if you're willing to admit it's crap.
Every patch is like ArenaNet walking out onto the stage of the International Don't Kitten Up Championship, and then proceeding to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"

#20 Arewn

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:53 AM

Hopefully it gains some traction on the official forums, while I think some implementations of the RNG boxes can be acceptable, anything to reduce chance from purchases is welcome in my eyes.
Seems to be getting some positive discussion going thus far, might even stay up if it keeps going at this pace.

#21 NerfHerder

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 01:55 AM

RNG boxes do seem to prey on those more susceptible to gambling. The sad part, and this isnt just Anet, is that they could make just as much or more money if they would put stuff in the gem store that we actually want. The only RNG in my games should be part of the  combat mechanics like critical hit chance, and I can manipulate those odds.

#22 Susanoh

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 02:00 AM

Very good points. My only regret is that I'm only able to hit the like button on this thread once.

There's a lot of cash shop items that seem iffy to me and I personally don't agree with myself, but if there's one thing that stands above all others as a method to prey on consumers' weaknesses in order to extract as much money as possible from them through addiction and impulse buying, it is lottery boxes.

#23 Fizzypop

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 02:44 AM

View Postdannywolt, on 15 May 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

You overlooked a huge reason for hiding skins behind RNG: artificial scarcity. If skins are sold at a reasonably low flat rate, the sudden influx of skins into the game will kill much of the appeal. Many players want to be unique. Look at legendaries: Initially everyone wanted one; now they are common enough that players who can afford them are losing the desire. I'm not a big fan of RNG, but making every special skin freely available isn't the answer.

there is no reason that cash shop skins need to be "artificially" or otherwise scarce. The idea that people won't buy a skin because everyone has it is nonsense. You'd know it is if you've ever played a game with a great costume system or even GW1. This is something most people don't give a shit about. Unique skins can be added in-game to be obtainable by those who put in the effort. Cash shop skins? They don't need to be scarce. By the by GW2? Just about everyone looks the same.

#24 Featherman

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:02 AM

If ANet wants to simulate prestige, they should tie unique skins to activities worthy of prestige like sPvP, or better yet a revamped version of PvP. Delivering prestige through luck and lottery cheapens it, and only serves to alienate the subset of players who don't enjoy those types of activities. Financially ANet's shooting themselves in the foot by tying monetization directly into the system, such that they're effectively relying on the system to sustain them. I might be giving the a lot of fans too much credit when I say this, but I'd like to think that people won't be fools to lockbox model forever and that the model will consequently collapse in on itself.

#25 dannywolt

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:18 AM

View PostFizzypop, on 16 May 2013 - 02:44 AM, said:

there is no reason that cash shop skins need to be "artificially" or otherwise scarce. The idea that people won't buy a skin because everyone has it is nonsense. You'd know it is if you've ever played a game with a great costume system or even GW1. This is something most people don't give a shit about. Unique skins can be added in-game to be obtainable by those who put in the effort. Cash shop skins? They don't need to be scarce. By the by GW2? Just about everyone looks the same.

Nonsense? Not really. Many people I play with in GW2, particularly those with the money to drop on skins, have explicitly said that they are no longer interested in legendaries and other premium skins because they are too commonplace. I have heard countless more players mention in map chat that they are not interested in Twilight and the other popular legendaries since everyone has them. Sure some don't care, but many do. The GW2 model relies on skin appeal, and a rare skin will draw the interest of both those who like the appearance and those who like the prestige.

Also note that this discussion is about special event skins, not generic gem store skins. I believe there should be cheap, good-looking skins in the gem store along with the rarer special skins.

#26 Trei

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 04:32 AM

This is one of the reasons I never bought those lottery type items from the gem store. But me being me, I'll play the usual devil's advocate here and offer a different point of view.

I see no big difference between these boxes and the packs of game cards collectors or TCG players buy, in concept.
Are we fine with those cards? If so, then there shouldn't be a problem accepting the game lottery boxes.

This is an issue with our perceived value of the box, or to be more precise - what in the box we place that value on.
Technically speaking, we are not getting nothing out of a box even if a specific item we hope to get isn't in it.

For example, if such a box is usually guaranteed to give say 3 random boosters and a chance for a rare desirable item at 100 gems per box, you can look at it as either:

100 gems for a tiny chance to win the item
OR
100 gems for 3 boosters, nevermind the item. It is a random lucky bonus.

BONUS, not an entitlement. After all, we bought boosters, we got boosters.

My point is basically this - if you are not prepared to accept the guaranteed outcomes from lottery boxesas its worth, you shouldn't be buying them.
I mean, I wouldn't buy a refrigerator (unless I actually need one) just for a chance to win an SUV, would you?

Essentially, you would be speaking out against the common lucky draw mechanic
itself otherwise.
Lucky draws are not gambling to me because I don't stand to lose anything regardless of outcome; either I gain more or I gain not, never lose. Whatever I bought to qualify for a draw is still mine.

Nevertheless, I too feel that limited edition skins etc should not be offered in this manner. They should be directly sold to those of us who fancy it.
I just don't think it is greed that is driving Anet to the current way they are doing things, more likely inexperience.

Edited by Trei, 16 May 2013 - 04:43 AM.


#27 Lasareth

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 04:48 AM

I agree in part but not entirely with the premise of this thread. The functionality of the system is not dangerous to progress here, the system itself is.

The biggest danger of subcription-free microtransactions, random or not, is that this model provides the company a shield from criticism in the form of the company not being responsible for developing a game that has no subscription fees.  The element of randomness discussed here is a major contributor to their gains. They are trying to match the income of pay-to-play games by pushing microtransactions.

Besides the aforementioned inherent danger of this model, it's worth noting that money is much easier to spend when it's not in its native form. Having the "choice" of spending the money empowers the buyer more than having to pay a monthly fee. Also, ease of transaction makes spending cash easier. One can much more easily spend $10 through saved information than through having to get out your debit card and enter its information to pay. The less time you have to think about your transaction, the more likely you are to make it. It's also much easier to make multiple $10 transactions rather than one $100 transaction (big numbers are scarier and you are less likely to follow through on the transaction)

Overall, this model started with the best intentions and is becoming something that is a bit insidious. Additionally it's a shame that the hallmark of many major updates is the cash store update.

#28 MazingerZ

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 04:55 AM

View PostTrei, on 16 May 2013 - 04:32 AM, said:

I see no big difference between these boxes and the packs of game cards collectors or TCG players buy, in concept.
Are we fine with those cards? If so, then there shouldn't be a problem accepting the game lottery boxes.

Last I checked, cards were tradable.  I don't believe these are.

View PostTrei, on 16 May 2013 - 04:32 AM, said:

My point is basically this - if you are not prepared to accept the guaranteed outcomes from lottery boxes
as its worth, you shouldn't be buying them.
I mean, I wouldn't buy a refrigerator (unless I actually need one) just for a chance to win an SUV, would you?

Essentially, you would speaking out against the common lucky draw mechanic
itself otherwise.
Lucky draws are not gambling to me because I don't stand to lose anything regardless of outcome; either I gain more or I gain not, never lose. Whatever I bought to qualify for a draw is still mine.

That doesn't really counter the points made.  The post describes why RNG is used and incentivized with the rare skins (limited time offer to boot) over selling the skins at a flat rate and makes a case for the methods being anti-consumer.  Your entire point can be summed up as a "if you were as smart as I you wouldn't be buying them and if I did buy them, I accepted the consequences of doing so."

Again, your points have little to do with the points made, except in fact go back to how we distract ourselves over the wedge issue of "personal responsibility" instead of the negative impacts of RNG, its reason for being used over a flat rate offer.


It's okay to enjoy crap if you're willing to admit it's crap.
Every patch is like ArenaNet walking out onto the stage of the International Don't Kitten Up Championship, and then proceeding to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"

#29 Guardian of the Light

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 05:27 AM

I don't think anyone is arguing this RNG for skins thing is anything but stupid. I hate a random gambling element for anything and I'd prefer these items to be directly payable in the store. However at the end of the day they're just skins, they don't actually affect the game directly in the game in any way so I'm merely accepting them as a "necessary evil" in order to generate revenue for the company. It's not like there are not a ton of other cool skins to go for in this game either. If a minority of people gambling for skins support free content for me to enjoy I honestly can live with it personally.

Besides you know what the best way to stop this practice? Stop buying the damn chests when Anet does this. It's the only real way to protest this. If Anet think they'll make more money by putting this stuff directly in the gem store, they probably will but if chest sales keep increasing when they do this, they'll keep doing it. Anet's not stupid, they know this pisses people off but NCsoft probably told them to keep doing this because it makes them a lot of money.

#30 Azure Skye

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 05:32 AM

View PostNerfHerder, on 16 May 2013 - 01:55 AM, said:

RNG boxes do seem to prey on those more susceptible to gambling.
Money talks, don't buy them. Why did they keep releasing more and more BL Chest skins? Because people are buying them. Stop buying them. it will show them that this way isn't profitable, if you keep on buying more and more, it will just show them people want them and more, they have been doing this since halloween, you dont want spend money on it then dont buy the keys. It will take time for them to understand that.

Edited by Azure Skye, 16 May 2013 - 09:28 AM.





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