If you’re a gamer, chances are you’ve encountered loot boxes at one point or another regardless if it’s a free-to-play game, or big budget, AAA title. One video game publisher who uses this microtransaction tactic is none other than EA; possibly the world’s biggest video game publisher (Activision notwithstanding).
Speaking to the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Comittee, EA VP of Legal and Government Affairs Kerry Hopkins says these randomized crates aren’t loot boxes, but “surprise mechanics.” Hopkins uses the term “surprise” as it compares loot box mechanics to Kinder Eggs, Hatchimals and the like.
Not only that, but in answering questions from the Scottish National Party MP, Brendan O’Hara, Hopkins comments that loot boxes (or in this case, FIFA packs) are “quite ethical.”
We do think the way that we have implemented these kinds of mechanics – and FIFA of course is our big one, our FIFA Ultimate Team and our packs – is actually quite ethical and quite fun, quite enjoyable to people.
Additionally, Hopkins doesn’t think loot boxes is the same as gambling.
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. Instead we think it’s like many other products that people enjoy in a healthy way, and like the element of surprise.
You can hear Hopkins say these things yourself by going to the 15:43:15 mark of the Parliament broadcast.
Regardless if you’re OK with loot boxes in video games or not, it’s hard to dispute that it has outworn its welcome — and with good reason. Will we finally see EA cave in terms of putting loot boxes in its games? Based on these statements, that’s highly unlikely. But one can hope, no?