EA‘s loot box system has been controversial to say the least. It is the face of what players perceive to be corruption in the gaming world on the part of major developers.
Now, a Canadian gamer is fighting back against EA with a class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of himself and anyone who has purchased loot boxes from EA since 2008. The lawsuit compares the loot box system to gambling and seeks to enact a financial penalty against the developer as a result.
All of this came from Shawn Moore, a native of Ontario Canada. The lawsuit covers loot box purchases from 60 EA developed games over the last 12 years.
When you read the actual verbiage of the lawsuit, you see a lot of effort put into the details of the monetization practices EA has become famous, or infamous, for. The loot box system has appeared in games like Battlefield, FIFA, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Dragon Age, to name just a few.
In the lawsuit, the loot box system is compared to gambling and accuses EA of creating an unregulated and illegal gambling business that preys on the compulsive habits of gamers.
Canada’s criminal code has a law called the Gaming Control Act, which Moore and his legal team claim EA is in violation of. The lawsuit alleges multiple counts of misconduct on EA’s part, chief of which is a lack of safeguards that would protect minors from loot box purchases, on top of spearheading initiatives meant to draw on psychological issues, urging gamers to purchase randomized item packs.
“Loot boxes have real-world value,” the lawsuit says. “Players can buy loot boxes directly from the publishers through an in-game transaction (using real money or in-game currency earned through play or purchased with real money). Loot boxes are considered part of the compulsion loop of game design to keep players invested in a game. Such compulsion loops are known to contribute toward video game addiction and frequently compared to gambling addiction. This is in part due to the use of a variable-rate reinforcement schedule similar to how slot machines dole out prizes and it is especially dangerous for children.”
The lawsuit is trying to expand to become a class-action case that would forever change how EA conducts its business in Canada. It also seeks financial damages for the affected parties.
Loot box driven games like FIFA are the backbone of EA’s profitability. By rolling this system out through popular titles like Madden, NHL, and FIFA, EA is anticipating a $5.6 billion fiscal year.