I know you’ve done it, we all have. A new game has been announced, and you want to buy in! You’ve done your own research. Maybe the developers have a gaming history, maybe they have a large investment from a known source, or maybe something else entirely won you over. In any case, you feel reasonably sure this won’t be another rug-pull or rug-slip, and you decide to buy one NFT pack, or maybe two, or ten.
You have your eyes (and probably your heart) set on that legendary NFT. The game-breaking, OP (overpowered) NFT worth thousands of dollars. You know what I’m talking about.
But then you start opening your packs, and one after another you get further disappointed as all you end up with are a ton of commons, a couple of uncommons, and maybe a rare or two, if you are lucky. This raises the question: “Was I duped?”, “Was this a scam?”, and “How much money did I just lose?”
But the above scenario that played out wasn’t bad luck. In fact, it was an average pull. It’s what you should have expected if you had looked closely at the drop rates. For this reason, and more that I’ll get into below, I’m going to unpack why pack openings, generally speaking, are bad for blockchain gaming.
Designed to Lose
The truth of the matter is, pack sales are designed in a way for you to lose. And by “lose” I mean the odds are that the contents of the pack will be worth less on the secondary market than the price of the pack. Essentially, you won’t be able to get your money back by reselling what you open. Yes, you could get extremely lucky and pull the legendary card which has less than a 1% drop rate, it does happen. It’s when you start believing or even depending on it happening that you get in trouble.
It’s when you start to over-invest in something, hoping you’ll get a return on your investment by sheer luck, that you have a serious issue. But that’s all it is, sheer luck. It is addictive, and exciting to buy and open these packs with the hopes of a fantastic drop. Game developers know this and depend on this. There is a reason why games don’t usually sell NFTs one at a time, and it’s because they can make more money if they put them in packs. Developers are relying on the addictive nature of pack openings to sell their NFTs to the all-too-willing gamers who are gambling on coming out the other side with profit. It’s basic exploitation.
A Case Study
To illustrate my point on the dangers of pack sales, let’s look at the recent sale for Music Mogul. Packs were on sale for 720 WAX ($75), and within each pack, you got 25 NFTs. Apart from asking its audience to buy blindly into a game with no details, it also included a fairly bleak drop rate table. The table below shows the rarity breakdown for each card pulled.
We will also need to look at the current market price to see how the individual cards are now being valued. The approximate current market price can be found below:
1-star: 3.5 WAX
2-star: 11.5 WAX
3-star: 40 WAX
4-star: 265 WAX
5-star: 3,000 WAX
Using all of the above information, in order for your pack to be profitable, you would need to open at least one 5-star, or three 4-star cards. Pulling two 4-star cards would likely result in an about-even result. The odds of pulling at least one 5-star card (6.76%) or three 4-star cards (0.58%) only total a 7.34% chance you end up with more value in your wallet than when you started. It’s worth noting that pulling two 4-star cards happens in about 4.87% of cases, and would be considered a fair opening.
To sum up, buying a pack of 25 Music Mogul cards for 720 WAX based on current market prices of the NFTs results in you equalling or gaining value in 12.21% of cases. Meaning 1 in 8 people wins or ties, while 7 in 8 people lose, and often lose considerably.
It is worth considering we don’t know how valuable these NFTs will be when the game launches, so this example is built on current market prices, but prices would have to change considerably for the outlook to be fair.
These pack sales are ultimately bad for the end user, in this case, blockchain gamers. It can lead to a large loss in the value of your assets, as well as disappointment. It is an unhealthy way for developers to release their NFTs to players. While the case study looked at today is unique, and every pack sale is different, they usually have a pretty similar drop table that rewards a small percentage of buyers and punishes a larger percentage. I am calling for the following:
- Developers, please stop exploiting users by holding unfair pack sales. If you want to do pack sales, then have guaranteed or near-certain drops in each one; it is gambling.
- Gamers, please make sure to do your own research if you do choose to join a pack sale. Know you will likely walk away with less than you went in with.
If you are looking to simply buy NFTs so that you can play the game, you’re almost always better off just buying the NFTs from secondary markets. If, however, you want to try your luck, know that the odds are stacked against you.