An insider from Electronic Arts (EA) leaked a document proving that EA is funneling players towards a game mode that tempts gamers into spending more money and how it potentially leads to gambling.
According to CBC, the leaked 54-page document from its sports division in Burnaby, B.C., contains a presentation that features multiple slides about FIFA 21, and one of its game modes, FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT). FUT allows players to purchase “loot boxes”, also known as card packs, using real-world money and they contain cards that can improve a player’s team.
Seeing that there is complete randomness when players purchase loot boxes, critics labeled loot boxes as “addictive and akin to gambling”.
Keith Whyte, executive director of the U.S. National Council on Problem Gaming, said that loot boxes are similar to slot machines. “Nothing is more attractive — and in some people, addictive — to the brain than intermittent, variable reward,” he added.
Charlie Fortescue, an EA spokesperson, claims that gamers don’t necessarily have to spend a single dollar after purchasing the game to play.
“You can play … without spending a dollar,” he said. “But you’ll learn it takes a long time to earn coins and you’ll get frustrated pretty fast,” he added.
An EA insider stated, “‘Grinding’ in video games is slang for doing the same monotonous task over and over again to the point where it’s no longer fun. It seems like [EA games] are designed to be boring, to be a grind, and to encourage people of all ages to spend money on card packs.”
He claims that the packs are purchasable by “grinding” out the game and saving up the in-game currency.
Players such as Jonathan Peniket, a self-proclaimed ‘loot box addict’, see loot boxes as a source of happiness to cope with his depression, triggering his excessive purchases.
“I started using card packs as a way to cope … when so many difficult things were going on … I could essentially buy a little rush of happiness,” he said.
EA has publicly denied any allegations regarding gambling involving any of its games.
However, countries are continuously seeking a solution on whether loot boxes constitute gambling and should be banned, as Belgium did in 2018. Several lawsuits alleging EA for violating gambling legislation, including a proposed class-action in Vancouver.
Image Credit: PlayStation Europe, Flickr