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Academic study 'Unfair Play' destroys EA's Kinder Egg parallels

Published: 13:21, 05 August 2019
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We're not overly fond of articles with 'destroys' in the title, rightfully so, but in this case - it's fitting, as an academic study titled Unfair Play dissected and laid to rest the idea that Kinder eggs and loot boxes are the same thing.

Mind you, you shouldn't be calling them loot boxes, because EA came up with a shiny new name - surprise mechanics , arguing that loot boxes are no more predatory than Kinder Surprise eggs.

An academic study by researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, however, claims otherwise and Dr Daniel King insists that the comparison with Kinder eggs holds very little water.

"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" he said, but the differences go on.

Kinder eggs don't link up to your credit cards, nor do they regularly account for thousand of dollars spending sprees while sitting in the comfort of your house. "The transaction, user experience, and consequences are quite different", he pointed out.

Dubbed 'Unfair Play? Video games as exploitative monetised services: An examination of game patents from a consumer protection perspective', the study looked at 13 monetisation strategies, such as behavioural tracking, incentivised spending without refunds, targeting of vulnerable populations, etc.

Needless to say, many of them have proven to be unfair and/or exploitative, although it's worth noting that the study's chief aim is to deepen the knowledge on how these mechanisms affect motivations and behaviours of vulnerable populations.

"Current addiction models suggest that these individuals tend to have difficulties in delaying gratification and may be particularly vulnerable to overspending on in-game purchases, particularly when presented with offers that provide immediate short-term gains or benefits in the game", the study reads.

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Perhaps even more dangerous are the so-called entrapment mechanisms, where recurring investments eventually create a sense of increasing value, even though the actual truth is you're only increasingly broke. 

You can find the study at ScienceDirect . Thanks, GamesIndustry .

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