Former EA Sports president Peter Moore expressed his opinion on why he does not consider FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes to be a form of gambling.
A former president of EA Sports has stated his opinion that FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes are not a form of gambling. In recent years, loot boxes have become part of many video games and Electronic Arts in particular has dealt with several lawsuits involving their presence in some of its titles.
Loot boxes are essentially virtual boxes that gamers can pay real world currency for to receive random in-game items that were “inside” the boxes. The issue many gamers take with this practice is that developers sometimes hide the most useful in-game items inside these loot boxes. Usually these special items can be acquired by playing through a game normally, however often times the grind to get them this way is ridiculously tedious. This practice is meant to incentivize gamers to spend money on loot boxes in order to achieve a better gaming experience. However because those quality items are not guaranteed when purchasing a loot box, players oftentimes buy multiple in the hopes that at least one will contain what they really want. The whole practice has many similarities to slot machines and has therefore been considered in recent years to be a form of gambling.
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In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, former EA Sports president Peter Moore expressed why he does not see it that way. When talking specifically about FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes, Moore compared them to collecting cigarette cards in the 20s and 30s. He went on to say that the fact gamers always get something from a loot box, even if it is not what they hoped for, makes it distinct from gambling.
FIFA has been one of a few EA titles to deal with loot box controversies in recent years. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was arguably the most famous example when it had many in-game items either in loot boxes or behind long hours of grinding. The title greatly underperformed as gamers made a statement with their wallets, forcing EA to reconsider how they used loot boxes going forward.
Moore’s interpretation of loot boxes seems to be the equivalent to buying a booster pack for a game like Magic: The Gathering or Yu-gi-oh. A player does not necessarily know what they will get, but they will get something no matter what and the quality of whatever they get simply comes down to luck. That luck, however, makes more sense when applied to physical cards and not to what essentially is a virtual slot machine. EA has greater control over what players can get because they are in charge of the game’s programming the way a casino is in charge of their slot machines. The thrill of randomness Moore describes is more illusory when it comes to FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes and others like them.
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