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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