Game Theory: WARNING! Loot Boxes are Watching You RIGHT NOW!

Are game makers actually manipulating us into gambling our money away? So far, we’ve looked at some general tricks both casinos and loot boxes used to hack our brains into spending more money. But today, I’m gonna take it one step further. Because these game makers, canada online casinos accepting ecopayz, *and* game developers alike are targeting not just you as a human, but you as an individual. Watching when you — you — specifically play and *how* you specifically play to capture you when you’re most susceptible. Sound a bit too Orwellian?

Like a Big Brother is watching? Hah, well, as you’ll see it’s not that far off. Are these practices wrong? Are they illegal? I’ll leave that for you to judge.

But what’s happening is very, *very* real and targeted directly at *you*. So it’s essential that you, and all the rest of gamers, be made aware of it. So let’s step up to the table, roll the dice, and hope we don’t crap out. When it comes to tracking individual player habits, the casino business has been doing it for *decades*. The Caesars Entertainment Corporation, formerly Harrah’s Entertainment, introduced their Total Rewards card back in 1997.

A membership card that allowed casino guests to earn extra perks by gambling. The program provides a nice incentive to keep players coming back for more. The more you spend, the more rewards you get for food, shopping, and alcohol at the casino. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but that one card turned Harrah’s into one of the most profitable casino chains in the world. Allowing them to buy out the Las Vegas strip’s iconic Caesar’s Palace in 2005. Because here’s the thing — Giving *you* as a player extra benefits wasn’t the goal of the card.

Spoiler alert for life, guys. It’s *never* the goal to give you extra benefits. No, the real secret behind the Total Rewards card was that it allowed the casino to track each player’s behaviour every time they visited. Because it required players to swipe into each machine they went to, swipe out when they were ready to leave, and swipe into whatever machine they headed to next, the casino was able to start tracking individual players movements and habits. With enough time, they were able to figure out what a person’s favorite games were right down to whether they prefer playing slots with The Wizard of Oz, Britney Spears, or Big Bang Theory.

Even the exact amount of money they’re willing to lose before they decide to call it quits. Knowing this, Caesars’ casinos were able to not only structure their casino layout to optimize for the games that tended to be played together, making sure that players were always within arm’s length of their favorite slots, But more importantly, they were able to pinpoint exactly when a gambler was about to reach their breaking point, and then send over a lady in a sparkly bikini to offer him a free meal, a free drink, tickets to a show… By doing this, they made their guests play longer and leave feeling more positive about the time they spent at the casino. Even if they lost hundreds of dollars. Which means that they were much more likely to return, and more importantly, spend more money. Also the loyalty program added to the sense of sunk costs that we talked about last time. “Well, I’ve dedicated all my time to this one casino.

“To start somewhere else would be to lose all those reward points I’ve accumulated . “Might as well stay here.” Because loot box systems aren’t considered gambling, they can do this exact same thing, just even more directly.

It’s illegal for a casino to adjust the odds of a slot machine in order to help a losing player, But a video game can change the odds of getting a good drop any moment that they want to. Fire Emblem Heroes gradually increases the odds of getting a five-star hero every time you roll a three- or four-star in its Gacha system. So players are essentially guaranteed to get a good drop, even if it’s not what they specifically wanted, after a string of bad ones.

That way they’re still getting rewarded and have a renewed sense of hope right at the point when they might have started to get fed up with the system. It also encourages them to keep spending after a bunch of failed attempts because of those sunk costs. “If I stop now I’ll lose all that progress I’ve made to that good 5-star roll, so I might as well keep spending until I get to that level.”

But that’s not all. Game companies can dive even deeper into the specific data that makes you “you” in an attempt to make you more likely to open up your wallets. A mobile development consulting company called Scientific Revenue provides game developers with analytical software that tracks player behavior and then dynamically adjusts the pricing of microtransactions to best match what *you specifically* are willing to spend.

On their website, they directly say, quote, “Different people respond to different prices at different times. “So why offer the same prices to everyone? “To maximize revenues, you need sophisticated user profiling “and prices that are tailored to specific users.” End quote. Their sole goal is — “turning players into payers,” M: Or more specifically, as their site says, “Turning free users into paid ones, and keeping more whales.”

I didn’t realize that giant sea mammals can manipulate game devices with their fins, but hey, game on, my belugas. Game on. Well it’s certainly scary to see how the company’s whole premise is using data to read our minds in an attempt to get us to spend money, You have to admit — the idea certainly makes sense in theory. Of course people are willing to pay different amounts for something. And when the thing being sold is a digital item that costs the company practically nothing to make, you can choose whatever price people will pay.

Never mind the ethics of people paying different amounts for the same exact item. Anyway the long and short of it is that it works. Scientific Revenue boasts a twenty to forty percent boost in in-app purchases for games that use its software.