The psychology of loot boxes and how you’re being an idiot

Loot boxes star wars battlefront 2




Loot boxes are a hot topic nowadays, and unlike what some of you may be thinking, the whole thing didn't start with the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 controversy. Nope, it's way older than that.

Since this is a very interesting topic and a small percentage of you just have too much money in your hands, it seems, I decided to take a look at an interesting article about the psychology behind loot boxes and how some developers are tricking you. If you're spending a lot of money in loot boxes, either in free games or retail games, then here's one thing you should take note right away:

You're an idiot. Or rich. Or a rich idiot.

It doesn't take a major in Psychology to understand how loot boxes work, but reading this article from Psychology of Video Games (via Massively OP) should give you some extra insight. Apparently it was Satan himself that wrote the thing, and he knows a thing or two about tricking humans.

Loot boxes star wars battlefront 2

The article is divided in five tricks: The Gambler’s Fallacy, Sunk Costs Effect, The Availability Heuristic, The Illusion of Control and The Near Miss Illusion. All of them touch upon something that feels too real when it comes to loot boxes, but most of them can be summed up into one idea: you're not in control of anything and you're being fooled into thinking that you are.

Loot boxes usually come with the idea that they contain special, rare items that you may get if you, you know, purchase A LOT OF THEM. No, it doesn't happen like that, and this is perfectly summed up by the Gambler’s Fallacy, with the heads or tails example:

“If you toss a fair coin three times and happen to get three heads in a row, most humans will think that there’s a higher than normal chance of getting a tails on the next flip. Because the coin is “due” to come up tails. Even though each flip is a separate event that always has a 50/50 chance of being heads or tails.”

There's also the shocking thought that some players will keep on spending money until they get a “good payoff”, just like someone does in a casino. And you've probably stumbled across a game that gives you the “oh, so close to what I wanted!” feeling, so that you keep on pushing it. Because almost means that you'll win it next time, right?

This is a good, short read and if you are new to the loot boxes thing, definitely enlighten yourself before spending some hard-earned cash on something that you don't have any control upon. Also, loot boxes are a plague, but good games and good developers deserve the support, so go for it knowing that you're helping them out and thanking them, not being ripped off by unfair practices.

What are your thoughts on loot boxes? Do you agree that most games have quite some shady practices to their loot box mechanics?

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  • Za’muro

    “Also, loot boxes are a plague, but good games and good developers deserve the support” ??? so u think there are no other ways to support them but getting scammed by lootboxes? damn… i wanna know how cd projekt red became 1 of the top without scamboxes and scamtransactions. if a company actually releases a good finished game FOR ONCE maybe they will earn a lot? lootboxes and microtransactions are nothing but a scam and ruining games. imagine path of exile is b2p and u pay for every expansion, BUT everything from the cash shop was in the game as rewards. wouldnt that be better?! just an example. fucking hate cash shops

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    • CDProjekt is a good example, but you’re purposefully forgetting about the dozens or hundreds of great developers who had to close and also never went with cash shops. Bizarre Creations, for example, or Visceral Games, or Lionhead. It’s not just a matter of making good games, you need to be a powerhouse with strong funding to take several years to fulfill your vision. Buying a game isn’t enough nowadays, that’s why Square Enix says that Tomb Raider and REVII need to reach several millions of sold copies to break even.

      Cash shops are logical in free games; you buy if you feel the devs deserve it. In B2P games, it’s a matter of seeing if it’s greed or not that is leading the design choices. SWB2 was clearly a case of milking the players, or Shadow of War, so it’s not a case of supporting the devs, it’s more a case of you need to buy loot boxes to play the game that you already paid for in first place.

      Buying stuff from Warframe, Path of Exile or SMITE? Hell, even if they only give me a “thank you!” for $10, they deserve it for their hard work. If you like Witcher so much, if they had a cash shop, wouldn’t you buy a box just to show your support? Aren’t 60 hours of a great game worth an extra $10 or so? Otherwise, just ignore the shop and enjoy the great game anyway.

      tl;dr Buy loot boxes from the games you love, but KNOW that the system is flawed and probably rigged, so don’t give a **** about what you’re getting anyway. You’re just thanking your fave developers for the years that they put into a GOOD game.

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      • Za’muro

        the thing is that they mostly focus on their cash shops and not on real content even in b2p games and they ask for too much. the prices in warframe and smite are fine but in PoE they are insane, just like BDO and many other games. 20-30$ for some costume/skin or a mount?! there are whole games out there that are cheaper. thats not microtransactions, its megatransactions. honestly when i think about it, subscription models arent that bad(at least for mmorpgs i guess). at least u are getting insane amount of content for the 10-15$ u are paying montly. it seems the most fair model, u are supporting the devs and they are supporting u

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        • The good thing about PoE is that no one is forcing your hand to buy it, but considering the game can get you hundreds of hours of enjoyment, would $20 be that much to ask? Bring more quality games and less rushed trash, and hopefully players will notice.

          Problem with subscription models is time. People don’t want to commit to a sub when nowadays the age target doesn’t really have much time to play. Either way, those MMORPGs are also including cash shops, so…

          Why not a F2P game with paid expansions? You like the game enough, you buy the extra content. But cash shops are now inevitable, so I just hope they don’t interfere with the game design and balancing.

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          • Za’muro

            yea no one is forcing me to buy them but i WANT TO buy them. these prices are stopping me from doing so. they are way too high for something that is just cosmetic. and 1 costume, or whatever it is, is never enough. u wanna buy a weapon skin, armor set, some effect, stash tab or something. so what, lets prepare them fat 100$ for few things? way too much for something like that. 1 game expansion with tons of content is cheaper. anyway it was nice chatting with u. gn

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        • Deadstroke

          what make CD Projeckt good besides it’s Slavic

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    • Deadstroke

      POE is a great f2p game though. Constantly update. You can also get the items in cash shop from challenge

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