Box 23

By | January 1, 2014

And Happy New Year to you all. Come and play cards on Sunday night.

So Deal or No Deal has a shiny new set and a new game element – can’t blame them for not trying – in Box 23. Box 23 is a box set aside from the stage with one of five things randomly loaded inside – Double, +10k, Money Back, Half, Nothing. After the main game, the player can elect to buy Box 23 for all their money and receive a return based on what is inside.

Crikey. I’ve been in several minds about this over the last hour, varying from hmmm, to mmm to hmmm again. They’ve been filming with it for months now so other people will have a better idea of how it’s panning out than I, but here’s where I am.

I sort of respect it but think it’s been done too conservatively. The fun of Pacco Matto (the crazy box in the Italian show) is that its game changing effects could come in at any point, here we have high potential for really big Pressure Pad style anti-climaxes.

I maintain that when people come up with these ideas, it’s not enough to consider expected value implications (mathsy people have already worked out that any prize under £20k is +EV and worth going for, over it is not) but also the sorts of real world decisions people make, ideally you want to cause a bit of indecision agony followed by a reasonable percentage of people going for it – this is why the Final Drop of The Million Pound Drop was really poorly thought through.

I reckon the sweet spot for this is going to be where the stake is around £3k-£8k, maybe a little bit more, not mega money but the sort you’d be quite upset to not have and where doubling or  halving represents significant utility risk. Below this it’s pretty much a no brainer – the gains significantly outweigh the losses, above this I think most people will walk away and certainly once you get power five I can’t see anybody going for it leading to really awkward win celebration followed by energy sapping pointless epilogue. A really elegant solution should avoid this sort of pitfall entirely.

Perhaps the recent running average has been in that sweet spot – I don’t really know. But I’m interested to see how it plays out. I think they’ve been quite clever in downplaying the half million payoff potential.

I still think the Deal team sets the high bar in the business, but my gut thinks Box 23 in its current form it’s a bit of a misstep.

13 thoughts on “Box 23

  1. David Howell

    There were a lot of four-figure deals in 2013, and my gut is that the intention was to make sure *they* were less anti-climactic. Which is fair enough, and *much* better than having players talked into gambling. It just creates an awkward epilogue after big wins.

    I’d like to see it done with five small boxes, or five scrolls in on box Italian style (thanks Gizensha for that one). Makes it more transparent, per Weaver’s Rule (a game must not only be fair but be seen to be fair), also it’s consistent with the logic of offering the swap on all 250k finishes (ensuring every player goes into the game with the same maximum prize to play for).

    Hated it on gut reaction, now I don’t.

    1. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

      Having 5 boxes seems fairer to me, then it’s the player’s fault if they end up with the Half or Nothing instead of the adjudicator who put the Box 23 contents in themselves, albeit randomly.

  2. Mister Al

    From chatting to other audience members — not necessarily DoND aficionados — whilst sitting in the studio myself, initial reaction from the general populace has typically been “I love it!” Indeed, many of the players themselves have stated while playing how happy they are that their game is in the Box 23 era (although they’re unlikely to want to bite the hand that’s feeding them by slagging off the new format, so maybe we shouldn’t place too much significance on that). Overall though, my feeling is that most viewers are very happy with the change.

    I’ve seen about 20 or so games featuring Box 23 recorded now and I still have mixed feelings about it. Thankfully I don’t think it makes the game broken, but I’m still not convinced it adds any tension or jeopardy that wasn’t already there during the main game. The vast majority of Box 23 decisions aren’t really decisions insofar as it’s totally obvious whether the player should buy it or not. The game is at its most gripping when the player is put under pressure, and Box 23 doesn’t really deliver there.

    In summary then , I’m not a huge fan but it could have been so much worse.

  3. Daniel H

    Initial reactions before reading anybody else’s…

    Been a big fan of DoND since the beginning but I’m not really warming to this. It’s quite tacked on and doesn’t really feel like you’ve “earnt” the extra money/loss – today’s player almost doubled a respectable deal within 30 secs of the end!

    Also seems like there are quite a few circumstances where it’ll feel a bit of an anticlimactic bonus game – as you say, win anything over about £20,000 and people won’t want to risk the £0 option, win a blue and people are bound to go for it and potentially win an extra 10 grand with virtually no risk attached. You could get someone who would have won 1p going away with £10,000.01 which will feel really daft.

    Also it’ll be very difficult to actually make a 1p winner anymore as if they “win” 1p they’re bound to gamble and then there’s only a 1 in 5 chance that they’ll actually stick with 1p

    It’s the +£10,000 option that is the real problem as it’s not relative to what the player has won like the other options.

    Deal Lights – Yes
    Stats Board – Yes
    New Set – Yes
    Box 23 – No, I’m afraid

  4. David

    Well there will be a chuckle when someone wins 1p, goes for Box 23, and ends up with a ha’penny..

  5. Brekkie

    LOL. Interesting twist which I guess effectively doubles the jackpot, not that anyone with £250k would gamble it.

  6. James

    The changes they’ve brought in show DOND is starting to die. Box 23 is an awful twist. Also the set changes are pretty poor too. The only thing they’ve done is lift the set up 12 inches.

    1. Jon

      I don’t think they wanted to make drastic changes, the set being higher up is probably a logistical thing to make the set seem the same height as before in the Bottle Yard studio as it was at the Paintworks. They’ve also added quite a bit of lighting in with the audience and of course now the ability to reference specific day or special shows without having to shoehorn in extra plasma screens. The twist is a good idea which insures no game is a dead game anymore.

  7. Crimsonshade

    The Box 23 gamble kind of reminds me of Box 13 in Take Your Pick, which wouldn’t be the first time someone’s drawn comparisons (of whatever validity) between the two.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Was there ever a time when Box 13 didn’t turn out to be a holiday or something, after Des faking them out with a rubbish prize?

      1. Alex

        Yup, I remember one episode Box 13 containing a string vest, and that’s it.

        Also, whilst not a holiday, one Box 13 contained a used lottery ticket (it didn’t win), and the prize was free lottery tickets for a year. £365 isn’t holiday money, but still.

  8. Brekkie

    Rather than five boxes the easy way to prove it’s not a fix would be to have a locked briefcase underneath Box 23 with the other 4 outcomes contained, probably just for reveal off-screen to prove to contestants and the studio audience it’s not a fix. Don’t think it’s necessary to do that on screen.

    1. Jon

      How would that prove it’s not a fix? Not sure people are suggesting they’re swapping the outcome during the programme. A video of the selection process prove it better.


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