A 3-D character artist who previously worked at Cryptic Studios on Champions Online and Neverwinter has come out swinging against lockbox mechanics, saying that they were directly and shamelessly lifted from the gambling industry.
“Loot boxes in games are a familiar topic for a lot of people, but they often discuss the wrong angle. Most gamers comment on how annoying they are, but few people address how harmful they are,” wrote Xavier Coelho-Kostolny, who now works at Insomniac Games. “This pay-for-potential-rewards structure is lifted directly from casino gambling — slot machines in particular. In fact, most of the win rates and feedback systems for loot boxes are lifted directly from slot machine design.”
Cryptic, by way of PWE, is infamous for pushing lockboxes on players in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online.
The remainder of his post may not necessarily surprise you, but it will shed a harsh light on the psychological tactics used to part players from their money. From flashing lights and exciting sounds to “insidious” accessibility, lockboxes aren’t shown in a good light here.
Think it’s bad? This artist says that the system is worse than you’d assume: “It’s important for people running these games to have metrics and info like this so they can tailor the experience to you. This is where video game loot boxes are actually more insidious than casino gambling; they don’t just take your money, they tailor your personal experience.”