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EA Sports Releases Lootbox Gambling Statement
EA Sports, one of the largest developers of online games in the world, has released a statement regarding the recent controversy surrounding the inclusion of lootboxes in its games.
“Lootboxing” as the practice is known, involves players selecting from a number of similar looking crates in order to be rewarded with an unknown in-game prize.
Critics have charged that because lootboxes can be purchased for cash and offer randomized rewards, they are de facto a gambling game. However, EA believes that the ability of players to earn lootboxes purely through play (as opposed to cash purchase), as well as the guarantee of an in-game reward of some kind, means they are not gambling.
“A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game,” EA said in the statement.
Protecting Children From Underage Gambling
The undercurrent of the whole lootboxing controversy goes back to the need to protect children from underage gambling, as evidenced by the fact that EA released the statement in the wake of controversy surrounding the inclusion of lootboxes its new Star Wars: Battlefront II game.
The problem surrounds the creation of a black market allowing players to exchange their in-game lootbox prizes for cash outside of the game’s platform. This has the practical effect of creating a pathway by which children can purchase a lootbox purely in the hopes of getting a prize that can be exchanged on the black market for more than what they paid for the lootbox exists.
Critics argue that this is no different than children playing in an online casino.
Legislative Action Possible
Belgian authorities have recently undertaken a review of the practice to determine if it constitutes gambling under Belgian law. As awareness of what it is spreads, it’s possible that more and more countries will review it.
While Canadian regulatory agencies have not shown any interest in pursuing the question here in Canada, it’s possible that a decision to ban the practice in Belgium might cause them to reconsider their own position.