Electronic Arts (EA) have once again made the news with an issue concerning their loot boxes. A Canadian judge has rejected Mark Sutherland’s initial accusations against the game developer on behalf of the residents of British Columbia, which claimed that their loot boxes constituted “unlawful gaming” practices. However, the class-action lawsuit has been sustained on separate grounds.
Justice Fleming would have allowed the eSports behemoth a brief sigh of relief when he rejected the allegations levelled against them stating his lack of faith in the accusations. All to re-instate their discomfort when he allowed the continuation of the lawsuit on the grounds of the mammoth game developer utilizing “deceptive acts or practices” related but not directly correlated with the loot boxes.
Scrutiny related to the “surprise mechanics” of EAˈs now iconically infamous loot boxes is most certainly nothing new. Most notably, being found guilty of soliciting illegal gambling through the Ultimate Team game mode on their highly lucrative “FIFA” game series. the argument is that such randomisation violates multiple laws around games of chance.
The sour thoughts and opinions of gamers who have suffered against EAˈs so called “surprise mechanics” outdates these legal actions even further. With the discourse around the loot boxes even being described as predatory reaching peak dissatisfaction in 2017 in relation to the release of EAˈs juggernaut title “Star Wars Battlefront 2”. The game included one of the most egregiously unacceptable loot box options and left EA with an infamous reputation attached to these types of mechanics. The game was dubbed “pay-to-win” with some of the most important characters in the game and franchise being deceptively held behind paywalls.
Both sides of game creation and consumption have been equally unkind in regards to this issue and have in many ways changed the industry pushing developers and gamers to gravitate towards alternative forms of microtransactions, such as battle passes and items that only change cosmetic and not performative properties. Despite, additional issues with the UK and Belgian judiciaries, EA has not seemed perturbed, indicating that although many a complaint has been registered, their version of “surprise mechanics” remains as profitably successful as is required.
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