The whole point (or part of it) is that they realized there are items people would pay much more than $30 for and they need a system to extract that money.
Like I say, I'd be more comfortable with blind auctions because then the losers get their C-Points back to spend on whatever else they want.
Actually, I think it's worse than that. I think they realize these are items most people wouldn't pay more than $30 for. Therefore they know that by putting it in a mystery box they can fleece a lot of people and make more money.
If they sold the Jem'Hadar or Cardassian ship for $30 a few people would pay that price, but a lot more wouldn't. If they made them $50 or $100, even fewer would be interested. But by making a mystery box and not publishing the odds, they know they can rope a lot of people in to spending $5 or $10, knowing full well that most of them will end up with absolutely nothing they want (it may have some "value", but if you never had any desire to have it then it's worthless to you).
The fact they refuse to publish the odds so people can make an informed decision is the absolute worst part of these lotteries. It shows they know that disclosing the odds would discourage a lot of people from buying the boxes, which means they are willingly taking advantage of people's ignorance. That's what really upsets me about the whole thing.
If they were up front about the odds of winning, even if only in the FAQ and didn't go out of their way to promote it, then I'd have absolutely no problems with the lotteries, because at least then people could know what they are paying money for.
Your great idea would never because that would make sense. Also, as is proven by the drop boxes,people are willing to spend more than what you have in your OP, so they would not be willing to charge less than what it costs for just one of the ships from the C Store now when they could potentially make SO MUCH more in a game of chance. Buisness 101 I'm afraid to say.
Personally, bearing in mind where Cryptic is going with this stuff and taking into account what they have said and what they have historically done...
... I think it would be more constructive to suggest lock-box loot tables that have a remote chance of actually happening.
Aside from the fact that the lock boxes contained more than their share of throwaways, they were not particularly well-designed around a DS-9/Bajor/Cardassian theme.
They need to improve the loot and/or drop the cost of master keys, and they should keep the loot organized around central themes.
For example, they had a perfect opportunity to design and include a cross-faction Cardassian costume set that would have had as much or more interest than the relatively unobtainable ship. True, not everyone would have wanted it, but a lot would and it would have been a pretty decent consolation prize. The Cardy fans would have been absolutely giddy, and they would have been worth a great deal in trade.
It was a blown opportunity, in my book.
From a pure marketing perspective, the boxes are no-brainers. Everything in them is "worth" at least the 100 CP they're asking for a key. Even the throwaways might have pleased new players who never had a chance to get those things. From their POV, it's a real bargain. Of course they know people are going to overspend on this... that's kind of the point. But I honestly believe that they believe there is good value here, that there aren't any "losing" boxes.
So no, I don't really think that we're going to convince Cryptic that their lock-box paradigm stinks. Especially since the prize spam suggests that people are paying serious money on this. I think we'll have better luck convincing them to put a bit more thought and value into them next time.
The "ship salvage box" simply does not make sense from a marketing perspective. They are not really attractive purchases. The main reason is because people would buy fewer of them trying to get the Galor because they're at least ten times the cost of one master key. Psychologically, it doesn't press the same buttons. For ten times the price, you want to get exactly what you're paying for. At ten times the price, it's going to dramatically increase your sales resistance if you get a result that you're not satisfied with.
They're simply not going to set themselves up for a fail. Even if it was a "bargain", you'd get fewer people and probably more complaints. It's not a bargain from Cryptic's perspective because they'd be losing money on normal ship purchases.
Here's how the ship salvage box -could- work: Instead of putting random ships in there and jacking up the price, they could put in random Ship Costumes and Bridges with the chance of getting a console or an actual ship like the Galor. Maybe the box needs more than one Master Key to open, not more than three. That would bring the price per box down to a more reasonable level, the 'theme' of ship salvage is more consistent than the in-game Cardassian lock-box, and there's more equitable value in the loot table.
I don't think they would even do that, but it's more likely than a random ship box.