Ball’s not in their court.
Remember that all fiasco with Star Wars Battlefront II and its loot boxes? Yeah, so did EA. Now that their loot box and pay-to-win shenanigans are kinda left outside for people to scrutinize, the next step is to sort that out with FIFA’s ever-popular FIFA Ultimate Team card pack-opening and randomized loot mechanics.
To say that it’s getting lots of government bodies and conservative groups interested is quite an understatement. So much so that EA’s VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins is clarifying the fact that randomised purchases aren’t loot boxes. Oh no; they’re actually “surprise mechanics” in what could be the latest (and possibly stupidest) buzzword in the company’s PR spin.
In an oral evidence session with the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, Hopkins compares the mechanics to surprise toys, which have been around “for years, whether it’s Kinder Eggs or Hatchimals”.
In response to questions from Scottish National Party MP, Brendan O’Hara, Hopkins says “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.”
“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.”
Keep in mind: despite this just happening within the UK, this sets a precedent that any legislative restriction for game companies with regards to exploitative mechanics that pry people’s money from their wallets through enforced behavioural patterns will find its way worldwide.
Long story short: play nice with F2P mechanics, lest the government does something drastic and possibly game-changing about it. And don’t get too greedy.