Free to Play Fuckery: Trion’s love for Lockboxes

I’ve been debating whether to do this one since the source material is gone but FUCK IT, lets roll with it anyway

In a recentish stream by Trion for rift on the 23rd of January they were answering a few questions the players had and one about lockboxes popped up. Daglar answered with something along the lines of, selling items directly in the store isn’t as profitable as Lockboxes. The data shows it’s just more profitable.

Hmmm.. I think what I mostly have to say to that is


I don’t think anyone has ever argued with them that it isn’t more profitable, or the better earner than putting items directly in the cash shop. The question has mainly just been is it actually better to use such methods.

I’ve talked about the human cost before and the ethical issues involved with using such methods as what they come down to is being a form of gambling. Something that preys on one of the weaker elements of human psychology.

And then, regardless of the short term gain that can come from lockboxes I mostly worry about the long term potential and effects. Spending so much on this, and often for nothing, fills people with regret and in the face of this often becomes a far more sceptical outlook. Increasingly because of this people become further removed from the practice, opting out more and more. The interest in ftp design was rather positive just a few years ago but now I increasingly see people filled with distrust, bordering on anger. Is that really the type of market you want to create?

Bad ftp makes owl sad

Bad ftp makes owl sad

I partly Blame the mobile scene for this and the design around artificial time gates and restraints, it is something that has impacted on the whole industry but seemingly far more so on MMO development, much to it’s downfall. Design around cosmetics can and does work, and doesn’t impact on people’s understanding and interest of a game but instead many have fallen into the trap of profits without thinking of its other effects.

I also wonder what exactly it does to the reputation of these games and companies due to such abhorrent practices. Trion, a once great companies image has been increasingly tarnished due to their practices. It wasn’t just Archeage here, I remember the outrage with how they created a specific world event to push a new lockbox type and have increasingly used such disingenuous methods to peddle these, more and more.

And come on, it’s the principle of it. Do we really need to treat customers as cattle, something to milk as much as possible. That’s the kind of thinking that ruins an opinion of a game and company. Maybe even the industry as well.

milking the cow

MMO’s are supposed to be long term endeavors. Something where you should be striving to gain and keep long term interest. Thinking about this long term interest, the reputation of your game and company, and just having some fucking respect for your players is how you maximise these profits. So please, let’s stop marketing these cheap, ridiculous gambling tricks.


11 thoughts on “Free to Play Fuckery: Trion’s love for Lockboxes

    • Agree, and scaringly there are probably the biggest and most profitable area of gaming at the moment. A whole generation of gamers will expect this kind of gaming, expect to pay for this ‘rubbish’…

      I hope that in the future we will see a return to normality where quality and diversity return…

  1. Just came across this post after reading the mobile gaming one. I have a real bad feeling about the spread of lockboxes. The hobbit ‘presents’ in LOTRO has to be one of the most out-of-place and in-your-face cash-grab manoeuvers in gaming history. I tire of the proliferation of lockbox types in Neverwinter as well, along with the admin notification spam that yet another Joe has won some fancy item from one. Changing the type of lockbox regularly has the added benefit of driving sales for bigger bags and more bank storage slots; it’s just so very cynical and manipulative.

    I’d like to be able to say that we’ll come back around to subscriptions or buy-to-play with a focus on content releases as paid-for DLC (e.g. TSW). But I suspect that they’re becoming less viable not more. The fake dawn of a new subscription era last year certainly didn’t show us a gaming public willing to shell out monthly for these games, with the obvious except of the WoW masses. Now with SoE, the poster-child of F2P MMOs, being sold off I wonder what will actually come next.

    • well final fantasy seems to be doing well and is the only mmo in many years to keep it’s players, and gain some over several months. that definitely says the model is still viable.

      Like i said, i just don’t think these companies are thinking for the ling term with these ftp mmo’s and that’s why they fail. They aren’t making a game first, they aren’t marketing it effectively and they show zero respect for their players… so no wonder really

      I do like the ftp model, sometimes and am sure that it can be done well in the mmo scene. If mobas can pull it off i’m sure mmo’s can too. buy to play seems ok too but then, not with the same ftp mehcanics. They should be toning that down considering the box. Tsw is one of my favourite models, DLC model works for them with the quality of releases and they always have soe awesome new costumes and pets in cash shop. Just wish I liked the gameplay haha.

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