The conjecture surrounding lootboxes is widespread. Some see them as insidious devices by which money-hungry corporations feed their greed. Others seem them as less invasive tactics by which games-as-services operate, chocking it all up to capitalism, baby.
One that’s certain, though, is that EA has been at the forefront of nearly all lootbox discussion over the past several years. The implementation of pay-to-win lootbox mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront 2 assured that. It was one of the biggest controversies of 2017, after all.
The micros in Madden Ultimate Team and FIFA Ultimate Team only serve to further strengthen the connection between the company and the conversation.
Now, EA has added fuel to the proverbial fire by saying lootboxes are “surprise mechanics” and “quite ethical.”
The comments come from Kerry Hopkins, vice president of legal and government affairs at EA, while speaking with the United Kingdom Parliament regarding the practice. Hopkins went on to compare loot boxes to other luck-based, prize-giving items such as Cadbury Eggs and Kinder Eggs, saying they are essentially one and the same.
We do think the way we’ve implemented these kinds of mechanics is quite ethical and quite fun. They aren’t gambling and we disagree that there’s evidence that shows they lead to gambling.
Regardless of how one feels about the efficacy and ethical nature of lootboxes and pay-to-win microtransactions, there’s no debate surrounding EA’s commitment to the practice at this point in time.
Players, despite their complaints, still pour millions of dollars each year into these systems that benefit they purveyance. According to GameIndustry.biz, EA’s CFO Blak Jorgensen said that Madden and FIFA’s Ultimate Team modes generate roughly $650 million each year by themselves.
Recently, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) brought the issue to the United States Congress by introducing the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act. It would seek “to curb what he calls the exploitation of children through loot boxes and microtransactions.”