Researcher stomps the ‘lockboxes are Kinder Eggs’ defense into paste


Most if not all of us pretty much felt the same way Dr. Daniel King, senior research assistant from the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, did when he heard that gaming lock boxes are like Kinder Eggs. Though luckily for us, Dr. King is much smarter and can back up his facedesking with some science. It’s kind of his thing.

The “Kinder Egg defense” reared its goofy head once again during Develop Brighton last month when UKIE CEO Dr. Jo Twist used the same comparison, stating that the games industry faced “cultural bias” while things like Pokemon trading cards and Kinder Eggs do not. Readers will recall this was a similar argument raised by EA in June of this year.

Dr. King had some words in response:

“A Kinder Surprise Egg does not collect your data. The Kinder Egg does not learn more about the person buying and opening the Egg, such as his or her preferences for its contents. The Kinder Egg does not adjust its contents according to an algorithm based on population data. People do not link their credit cards to Kinder Egg vendors. Kinder Eggs are physical and can be given away or traded, unlike virtual items. It is difficult to spend thousands of dollars on Kinder Eggs. The transaction, user experience, and consequences are quite different.”

Dr. King further elaborates on the practice of lock box monetization in a study which examined 13 in-game purchasing patents and their connection to consumer rights. The patents themselves include various features such as behavior tracking, price manipulation, and incentivized continuous spending.

It should be noted that the patents included in the study were from a broad Google Patents database search of over 87 million findings, and that not all of the patents have been implemented into games yet. Still, it’s hard to hold up a Kinder Egg as an effigy in one hand while also holding a patent filing for behavior tracking software behind your back in the other.

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