EA Fights for Loot Boxes at UK Parliament

Ever since Star Wars Battlefront 2 released, EA has been under heavy scrutiny from multiple governments; especially regarding the Loot Box system. Loot boxes have been a common premium content in many multiplayer games. Whether it is Overwatch, FIFA, or NBA 2K, many game companies are using loot boxes to make more profits.

What is bad about Loot Boxes?

Loot boxes usually contain multiple in-game items that can be difficult or slow to earn normally in games. However, there are no guarantees what you can obtain from a loot box. You could be spending money on items that aren’t very valuable. This could cause players to continue to spend money on loot boxes in hopes to obtain rare or good items in games.

EA says Loot Boxes are “Ethical” and “Fun”

Kerry Hopkins, EA’s VP of Legal and Government Affairs, stated that the company’s randomized purchases aren’t “loot boxes” but rather “surprise mechanics.” (PCgamesn) He states loot boxes are similar to Kinder Eggs or other surprise gifts. In regards to questions from the Scottish National Part, Hopkins stated: “our FIFA Ultimate Team and our packs – is actually quite ethical and quite fun, quite enjoyable to people.” Whether it is fun for players to spend countless dollars in hopes of obtaining a good player seems ridiculous. This is mostly to defend EA’s pack system as FIFA is one of their best selling titles and generates massive amounts of revenue to the player pack system. FIFA 19 sold 9.15 million units for the PlayStation 4 last year. It is the 3rd best selling game of 2018.

Hopkins and EA believe that loot boxes isn’t similar to gambling or leads to gambling addiction. Many governments believe loot boxes will lead people, especially children, to be gambling addicts. EA is hoping the government won’t make any laws to prevent the banning of the system as it generates massive amounts of revenue for the company. While many hardcore players are recognizing and complaining about loot boxes or similar systems, many other players are still purchasing them in hopes of getting their best characters, loot, or cosmetics.

I believe loot boxes should be removed from games. It creates an unhealthy habit because it causes players to spend more money then they should on a chance of obtaining their desires. If you want to just spend money on a character or cosmetic, then that’s fine. At least you know what you’re paying for but spending over $100 a month just for a chance is ridiculous. It is a smart business tactic for companies who can pray on consumers but it isn’t a healthy option in the long run.

Sources:

PC Games

Statista – FIFA stats

Potential Lawsuit against EA for Loot Boxes

If there is any company that digs themselves into horrible PR messes, it has to be Electronic Arts. Following the disaster regarding the loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA promised fans they would cut back on loot boxes for future games at E3 this summer. But apparently, they didn’t state they would remove loot boxes from their current games.

Belgium developed a law that bans “video game gambling for profit” which includes loot boxes. Companies such as Blizzard and 2K have removed their loot boxes from their games earlier this year but EA’s FIFA games still have card packs. Card packs give players the chance to obtain certain players to develop their “Ultimate Team.”  EA’s CFO, Andrew Wilson stated that the loot boxes in FIFA are not a form of gambling.

 “Firstly because players always receive a specified number of items in each pack, and secondly we don’t provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money..We’re working with all the industry associations globally and with regulators in various jurisdictions and territories, [and] have established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling,” said Wilson (Ars Technica)

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Example of FIFA Card Pack

EA recently announced the odds of earning certain cards in July but some fan spent over $10,000 on developing his ultimate FIFA team. EA could potentially be sued by the Belgian government. There are penalties of up to €800,000 and five years in prison, which can be doubled if “minors are involved.” Considering that FIFA is rated E for everyone, the lawsuit could be a major loss in EA’s massive wallet. Whether Belgium will sue remains to be seen.

Sources:

Ars Technica

Rock Paper Shotgun – EA Odds

Eurogamer