EA must’ve lost their collective corporate mind.
Loot boxes have long been an area of contention in the gaming community, so much so that foreign governments have gotten involved working to outright ban them due to their perceived predatory nature. Recently, EA’s Vice President of Legal and Government affairs had to present an oral argument to the UK Parliament’s Digital, Media, Culture, and Sport committee regarding the inclusion of loot boxes in their various titles.
It’s no secret that loot boxes are cash grabs created by video game corporations to acquire more money from the consumer. It’s also no secret that EA has no bones about the inclusion of loot boxes because they are practically in every title. This could be considered ok if microtransactions were part of a free-to-play title as this would be a means of sustainability. But EA, a billion dollar corporation, has no reason to egregiously include these in premium titles especially ones that are so popular.
What makes it worse is that these loot boxes are essentially pay to win. These are especially noticeable in EA’s sports series such as Madden or Fifa as they are promoted constantly and can be essential if the player wants to be successful. EA has been consistentlg under fire as loot boxes can be classified as a form of gambling. Because you’re spending real currency for a random digital reward, loot boxes can be classified as a digital slot machine.
What’s fucked up is that EA during the oral hearing classified loot boxes as “surprise mechanics” and that gamers love them. Clearly, the gaming giant is out of touch otherwise they wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. I get wanting to protect your investments and maintain a high level of capital. But the more you look the other way when it’s clear that the inclusion of these loot boxes can be financially harmful is disturbing.
They’ve already gotten torched for Star Wars Battlefront II as it relied on a pay to play scheme that scuttled sales projections. To say that players loved that would clearly indicate that EA has lost themselves in corporate greed. This is a textbook example of how to damage your reputation and the sales of future titles. Its arrogant, irresponsible, and tone deaf. It’s no longer what’s in the game, it’s more about what you can spend to actually play it.
If EA gets the hammer brought down upon them and loot boxes are ultimately banned in Europe in all forms, it would have a cascading effect across the industry. Profit margins would decrease because microtransactions have become a significant source of revenue in recent years. It would force a culture of transparency regarding the marketing and promotion of microtransactions which would be beneficial for the consumer, but a detriment to publishers and studios that have utilized them to thrive.
All of this stems from EA using deceptive marketing tactics and is now blatantly refusing to admit to their own guilt. Change is coming and if it happens to be at the expense of EA’s bottom line, then so be it. It was about time that someone be held accountable for this loot box fiasco. If you feel bad for EA, I suggest you reconsider, their constant disregard for the gaming communities they serve is clear that they only care about money.