Despite what others on these forums claim, I believe that Cryptic generally conducts business in an ethical manner. However, I have to wonder if it is ethical to market a promotion specifically aimed at enticing players to buy these "grab bags" for the purpose of obtaining these Jem'Hadar ships without disclosing the odds of actually winning the ship.
In California, it is generally illegal to have a contest or a sweepstakes without disclosing the odds of winning or the method through which the odds are calculated. I realize this does not meet the definition of a contest or sweepstakes, but it does seem intentionally deceptive to deny the consumer the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding the value of the "grab bag". Failing to disclose the actual probability of winning the product which is being marketed might be considered a deceptive business practice.
I bear no ill will toward this promotion and I support making these ships rare; however, I strongly urge Cryptic not to sell what is primarily being marketed and perceived as a sweepstakes ticket without disclosing the odds of winning. Consumers deserve the right to make an informed decision.
Once again, from the item description in the C-Store:
"Buy a Winter Package to give to a friend, or open it yourself to get one of the following tradable items:
Unique Jem'Hadar Attack Ship
Faction-appropriate Duty Officer Pack
Holographic Science Bridge Officer
8-hour XP Boost
Gekli Space Pet
Targ Pup Pet (Klingon Empire characters only)
Exocomp Pet (Starfleet characters only
Eisilum Crystal Horta Ally
Polytrinic Acid Horta Ally
1-hour XP Boost
Blue Winter Package with a space or ground weapon and holiday crafting materials"
Now if you don't feel you've enough information there to make an informed decision over buying this thing or not, I'd urge you not to buy it.
As I've stated previoulsy, you will always advertise your top prize in things like these. The odds of winning a prize are roughly about 400%, because (in all the boxes I've opened in winter Wonderland) four items have been "won". The odds of winning the top prize are always going to be significantly less.
Just for example, I think any reasonable person would conclude that in a situation like this, if the odds of winning the ship were, for instance 10^-5, then this would be a clear act of unethical and deceptive business practices and I suspect the courts would agree.
The whole caveat emptor spiel is trite and unimpressive. We do not live in a capitalist society. We live in a society with a regulated free market which includes a myriad of laws designed to prevent unethical or deceptive business practices (for instance CALIFORNIA BPC. CODE § 17200). While I may not be knowledgeable about all the California and Federal laws regulating deceptive business practices, I do know that they are prohibited.
Even if the case law supports that such marketing is legal (and I suspect that it does at least to the extent to get the okay from Cryptic's lawyers) that still in no way addresses the question of whether it is an ethical business practice.
My general thoughts are that a similar situation would be something akin to baseball cards, which I do not believe are specifically violating any law by not disclosing the probability of obtaining each card. The major difference is though that baseball (or similar trading cards) generally are not marketed and promoted primarily on the merit of obtaining one single item (although I am certain there are exceptions to this), and of course, they constitute real goods to which a first sale doctrine applies (you can sell any cards you do not want).
It should also be noted that California law specifically bans grab-bags of baseball cards which have an unknown number of rare, desirable cards inserted into them (it is considered an illegal lottery).
Considering that the primary reason people are buying these gift packs is to get the ship, I think Cryptic has an obligation to inform its customers of the odds. That way, no one will feel cheated by anyone other than lady luck.
Cryptic won't share the odds because that would be a huge deterrent in people wasting a lot of money on these things. By law, they don't have to disclose the numbers either. It's just like buying a pack of baseball cards. You know all of the possible things you can get but you don't know what you've got until you open it. It may not be a very nice practice in some of our opinions but that's just the way it is. I'd like the ship too but I'm just not going to drop a ton of cash into their pockets for something I have very little chance of obtaining.