EA Insists Its Loot Boxes Are Not Gambling As Regulators Clamp Down

Ruben Fields
May 10, 2018

In a recent earnings call with investors (transcript available over at Seeking Alpha), EA indicated that it will continue implementing loot boxes in its games.

Loot boxes have been a hot-button topic for gamers, highlighted by the disastrous launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2.

It was actually an Electronic Arts game that stirred the ongoing debate over the nature of loot boxes and whether these constituted a form of gambling.

In FIFA, though you can't purchase a player in the same way Battlefront tempts players to purchase a hero, players can use real life money to "pack" a player in order to increase their worth throughout the title's entirety.

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Wilson says EA is "working with all the industry associations globally and with regulators in various jurisdictions and territories, [and] have established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling". This decision comes after some countries in the European Union, such as The Netherlands, determined that some implementations of loot boxes constitute gambling.

There is another side to the story though, particularly for EA, as the publisher has been making loot box-centric game modes for years already, and with very little fuss from the wider gaming community.

Wilson also addressed the sale of in-game items through third-party sites, which has become the crux of some arguments for loot boxes as gambling: "While we forbid the transfer of items or in-game currency outside [the games], we also actively seek to eliminate that where it's going on in an illegal environment". Second, we don't provide or authorise any way to cash out digital items or virtual currency for real-world money.

The CEO then explained that players are always given a specific number of items in each FUT pack, and that EA doesn't provide players with a way to sell items for real-world money. Additionally, because FUT packs actually give you players to improve your team, this increases your chances of winning against others online and could be viewed as gambling. Wilson said the company continues to work with regulators on both combating these services and the company's ability to utilize loot boxes as a live game revenue stream. It is working with regulators to be able to keep them in games. "And we work with regulators in various jurisdictions to achieve that".

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