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EverQuest II Throws in With Random Lockbox Schemes August 2, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II, Star Trek Online.
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Step Right Up!

We are adding a feature where you can play instanced mini-games to win random loot in game!  You purchase a ticket that gives you access to a mini-game instance.  Should you beat the simple, fun game, you receive a random reward from a chest, or opt for tokens you can spend on items available on a merchant.  We will be selling the tickets for Station Cash in the marketplace.

As noted over at The EQ2 Wire, there is a new cash shop item in the EQII August Update Planes posted by Holly “Windstalker” Longdale.  That is the quote at the top of the page.

While still pretty vague in the “how much” and “what do I get” departments, it looks like SOE is stepping into new territory in order to hustle Station Cash.  New for them at least, this is old hat elsewhere.

Other games have been criticized for selling random prize boxes.  Syp did a post over at Massively called The Truth About Lockboxes, which includes directly calling them gambling, which has been the literal truth in some cases.

SOE looks like they are going to try to skirt the gambling charge by following the carnival game example.

As I recall, in my home state, the elements of gambling of gambling are:

  • Consideration – You have to pay something in order to participate
  • Prize – You get something of value if you win
  • Chance – There is an element of luck which may keep you from getting a prize

Rules in your jurisdiction may vary.

Carnival games do not qualify by being about skill and not chance.  You need just the right throw to get that hoop over the stuffed dog and the base on which he rests.  And lockboxes like the ones Star Trek Online hawks so vigorously do not count in my state either, since you always get a prize.  But the random nature of the boxes trips over the rules in other places.

In a carnival game, you know what the prize is in advance, so if you have the skill, there is no chance.

SOE is also trying to introduce some skill with the mini game.  We shall see how easy or fun the games really are.

But SOE is still offering up the random prize box, which might make the whole skill aspect moot.  The hinging factor might be that they added in the option to simply take tokens which you can spend.  You can opt out of the random factor.

Will this avoid a gambling charge in all jurisdictions?

We shall see.

Will this take “pay to win” and make it “gamble to win?”

I can hardly wait to see what the prizes will be.

I guess if your cash shop is overly dependent on certain items… like mounts or heavily discounted Gold subscriptions… you have to find a way to branch out.  And these sort of random box schemes have been a gold mine in other games.  They might even be why STO is Not Dying.

I’ve said it before and I am sure I will say it again.  I like that there we are entering an era of varied subscription options.  The box price and monthly fee add up to a big barrier to entry for many.

On the other hand, I am not really happy about what some games become when they go free to play.  And if you look at the MMOs I am actually playing lately… Rift, EVE, and a bit of WoW… you will see the common thread is that they are classic subscription model games.  I am not sure if that is an accident or not.  Like others, I seem to like my subscription.

How about you?  Do you like random lockboxes?

And how soon after conversion will they show up in SWTOR?

Comments»

1. bhagpuss - August 2, 2012

I nearly posted about this this morning. I went to the official EQ2 forums to check the inevitable firestorm of protest…nothing. I tried EQ2Flames…tumbleweed. I just checked them again twelve hours later to be sure…complete silence.

Apparently no-one cares. The limited-time, no-SC-involved rare Ethereal Weapons, where they drop and what they are like seems to be the only thing that anyone’s really interested in from Windstalker’s August Statement.

I don’t care either. I’ve played a bunch of F2Ps that have that feature and never found it impacted my play in any way. Guild Wars 2 has it (dropped boxes you have to buy keys in the cash shop to unlock). City of Steam has chests in dungeons for which keys drop but for which, should you find one when you don’t have a key, you can buy keys for real money.

My position is that since I managed to do without a shed-load of “hard to get ” stuff for more than a decade of playing subscription games, never feeling pressured to camp, grind, group or raid for anything unless it gave me pleasure to do so, I certainly won’t have a problem not spending actual cash to do it.

I’m also already resigned to putting up with this stuff from here on out. It already doesn’t surprise me and it’s very close to not bothering me. I was going to call my post “Boiling the Frog”. I may still do it.

2. Wilhelm Arcturus - August 2, 2012

The thing that I fear is that we have not hit a steady state in F2P that I can simply get used to.

One of the possible outcomes of SWTOR going F2P is that there will be yet another big cash shop game out there fighting for cash shop dollars and so the rest will have to crank up their sales pitch and come up with new, more obnoxious way to make money.

When I was in EQ2 the other night taking screen shots, the “Upgrade to Gold!” message seemed to be coming up in the middle of my screen an awful lot. How soon until they decide that it needs to be more often and advertising some additional items?

I don’t like things now and I am afraid they will get worse.

3. Gripper - August 2, 2012

Its funny, right now I am playing Eve, and a bit of Wow also. Both subscription…looking at Mechwarrior – bought the Legendary package – gotta love the Battletech universe. Also purchased GW2 – intrigued by that, but the neat thing is that it has no sub. Who knows!!!

4. Shivoa - August 3, 2012

I’m not a fan of gabling (ie randomisation and payment of actual money). Hell, I’m not a massive fan of too much random when real money isn’t involved. But I’m also getting tired of subscriptions when there are so many games with so much content outside of MMOs to take my time and I guess this stuff comes with the F2P territory (EA are even shilling this scheme with the mulitplayer for Mass Effect 3). I really hope we see some good games with a sticker price and regular expansions (no subscriptions, Guild Wars style; a light touch on micro-transactions if any are absolutely required to fund it) as that would be my ideal game (less PvP focus so maybe you can run less server-side to reduce server costs, take the multiplayer console tiel ‘catch cheaters later’ approach to online interactions – although you’ve got to wonder how much cheaper it is to run an MMO server cluster today than with the horsepower/$ of servers from a decade ago).

5. sleepysam - August 3, 2012

You have to give the bean counters some credit – they are monetizing the bejesus out of your fun.

6. Nefarious Payment Schemes « Harbinger Zero - August 3, 2012

[...] might can call “Lockbox Syndrome” among F2P titles lately.   Everquest II has jumped on the bandwagon.  There are clearly moral, if not legal, evils at work in the Syndrome.  And unless the sample [...]


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