Essentially, it's a White Elephant/Yankee Swap/Naughty Santa/Whatever-You-Call-It gift exchange in Game Show form each of the five contestants (referred to on a first-name-basis only; the reason for that will become very clear later) starts the game by picking one of the five mystery prizes from the Dream Screen (a monitor off to the side of the set; the contestants get a prop to represent their prize, too). And once you take a prize, it's yours to keep...except a contestant doesn't just have to pick from the Dream Screen; they can steal a prize away from an opponent instead. The goal of each round is not to be stuck with the prize that ends up having the lowest retail price, as that contestant is eliminated. The process continues on with progressively higher-valued prizes until two remain.
In the final round, the two contestants first choose an envelope to add some cash (between $25,000 and $250,000) to their pile of prizes. After this, the players must choose whether to "Keep Mine" (their own built-up stash of prizes) or "Take It All" (all of the prizes held by the final two players).
- If both choose Keep Mine, they keep their prizes and go home happily ever after.
- If one chooses Take It All, that player gets everything.
- If both choose Take It All, nobody wins anything.
Before the decision, the two contestants get a few moments to essentially plead their case to one another.
Now, you're probably thinking "Hey, this seems familiar." And that's because it's the dreaded Prisoner's Dilemma (in this case, the Prize Fight); it's not like this hasn't been done on a game show before.
Aside from that aspect, at least it doesn't make the same mistakes that NBC's previous attempt at a new primetime game show made just a year prior. Unfortunately, it did make the mistake of not having enough viewers; with that, Take It All was swept back under the rug and never came back (barring the Global network in Howie's homeland of Canada, which randomly picked it up to air as a Summer burn-off).
Game Show Tropes in use:
- All or Nothing: Practically every single round. First, the eliminated player in each round doesn't get to keep any of the prizes they've earned. Then, there's a possibility in the end game that one or both players may walk away with nothing after backstabbing each other.
- Lifelines: Once during the game, a contestant can "lock" their prize and prevent it from being taken by someone else during the round.
- Mystery Box: The virtual boxes on the Dream Screen.
- Undesirable Prize: Some of the prizes may seem a bit too extravagant to some, in that late-1990s Price Is Right "Why would I want a popcorn cart?" vein.
- Whammy: The lowest-valued prize in each round.
This show provides examples of:
- Commercial Break Cliffhanger: It's an NBC game show. Fortunately, Howie did them more like how he did them on Deal or No Deal, far away from the extremes that Minute to Win It and Who's Still Standing? took them to.
- Downer Ending: By design (being the Prisoner's Dilemma and all), the Prize Fight had this possibility. At least twice, the audience couldn't respond with anything but horror and shock to some moron onstage who shafted the other. Did we mention the series aired around Christmastime in 2012?
- Especially bad when one player had repeatedly stated he was doing things for anti-bullying support groups, and by all indication was a nice, upright person. The other player in the Prize Fight agreed with his noble efforts and ambitions, noting that she couldn't possibly stand in the way of that. The result? He picked Keep Mine (proving his good intentions), she picked Take It All...and proceeded to celebrate what amounted to being a bully.