Loot boxes and predatory forms of in-game monetization have become a controversial topic in the industry, to the extent that it’s literally become an issue being discussed by governments across the globe. Belgium, especially, has taken issue with these practices, while some have started taking steps toward curbing these practices in the US and Germany as well.
The company that comes under fire for these practices more often than most is EA, and though, after the Star Wars Battlefront 2 debacle, they’ve started using loot boxes with much less frequency, their annual sports titles, like FIFA, use loot packs and loot boxes a lot. But as per EA, these loot boxes aren’t predatory at all. During a session with the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, EA’s VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins called loot boxes “surprise mechanics”, and said they’re “quite ethical”, and said that such practices have been employed in toys “for years”, mentioning Kinder Eggs, or Hatchimals, and LOL Surprise.
“We do agree with the UK gambling commission, the Australian gambling commission, and many other gambling commissions that they aren’t gambling, and we also disagree that there’s evidence that shows it leads to gambling,” said Hopkins. “Instead, we think it’s like many other products that people enjoy in a healthy way, and like the element of surprise.”
At this point, EA’s brazen attitude toward loot boxes is, sadly, unsurprising. Here’s hoping they eventually come around to the idea that loot boxes really are predatory, one way or the other.