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Loot Box Leak, EA Responds

Loot Box Leak, EA Responds

Recently an EA insider released a 54 page document outlining a presentation for an upcoming FIFA game that puts loot boxes at the center of more criticism. A new mode is coming to FIFA that will be the “cornerstone” of the title, and it is designed to drive players toward purchases. Many have criticized the sports game giant for games like FIFA, Madden, and NBA 2K for their overabundance of microtranscations and card packs which are basically just loot boxes. Much of these games appeal is the chance to play against others, and that requires a good team which drives many to feel a compulsive need to get the best possible players from as many player packs as it takes. EA decided to publicly respond to the current PR blemish.

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What did they say?

We do not “push” people to spend in our games. Where we provide that choice, we are very careful not to promote spending over earning in the game, and the majority of FIFA players never spend money on in-game items.
Nothing in the leaked document contradicts this in any way – it shows how we are supporting engagement in our game during the summer period, not spending.
We don’t encourage young players to spend in our games, and we strongly recommend use of family controls to manage the content that children are allowed to access, their ability to spend in games, and how much time they can play. Our EA platform for PC games also includes dedicated Child and Teen accounts, so that all of our players and their parents can make informed choices about how they play. And tools like FIFA Playtime help players take control of how they play, including the ability to set limits to manage their engagement and purchasing.

What's the issue?

The main problem with this situation is not that microspending is wrong, or that EA should or shouldn’t put this sort of thing in their games. This is an issue of supply, demand, and a willing consumer base. Until the large amounts of players who buy these games do otherwise, EA will only ever need to play PR damage control.

No matter how much a game squeezes the player or funnels them toward purchases, if it works and generates revenue from willing consumers, businesses will continue to do it. Opinions on something being too expensive or predatory will likely continue to have little effect.

Games where players can compete and spend money for a chance at an advantage will, without a doubt, at the very least passively motivate anyone in who touches the game to consider rolling the dice on a few card packs, hoping for that big score and leg up in the game.

But is it gambling?

While the debate continues about whether or not these games can be classified in the traditional sense as having “gambling”, it stands to reason that there is a giant difference between a game with a vanity store like Fortnite and card packs in a sports game.

In one game you are simply buying decorative items that no doubt are sought after and desired by younger players due to the peer pressure or peer prestige. In the other game you are actually hoping for that glimmer of a chance to strike and a big player or big item to drop to help your team become “better” or “stronger”.

Ultimately I believe that microspending needs to be classified into different categories so that parents and users can be more educated about the contents of a given game and the potential purchases that will happen once a person is inside the game. This would allow for more parental control and consumer awareness.

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