Thursday, June 20th 2019

What's in a Lootbox? EA Says "Surprise Mechanics, Quite Ethical"

Kerry Hopkins, EA's VP of Legal and Government affairs (and yes, apparently that's an actual position within EA) said before a UK parliament session that loot boxes in video games are surprise mechanics that aren't any different from Kinder eggs or from any other "Surprise!" factor product. AS Hopkins put it, lootboxes are also very fun and very ethical experiences in the way EA has implemented them: "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". Never mind that a government-commissioned study on the matter, "Young People and Gambling 2018 Report" claiming that 450,000 UK kids, aged between 11 and 16, bet regularly.

Hopkins explained further saying that "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." I'm sorry about the meme, but I just had to do it. But I feel tempted to circle back to the job position for VP of Legal and Government Affairs... I mean doesn't that just sound like something an evil company would have?
Sources: PC Games N, Young People and Gambling 2018 Report, Metro.co.uk
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87 Comments on What's in a Lootbox? EA Says "Surprise Mechanics, Quite Ethical"

#1
Vayra86
Seriously, this company and its people. I wonder how they sleep at night. There is a special place in hell, I hope.

As for the job position, ironically most bigger companies have something of the sort. Its called lobbying and its a cancer that needs to be eradicated, not just in gaming.
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#2
TheLostSwede
Because no kids have ever borrowed their parents credit card to buy loot boxes...
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#4
64K
[IMG alt="Image result for picard shaking head gif"]https://media.tenor.com/images/0198fbc16966c130127280ec1f42b5e2/tenor.gif[/IMG]

They need a VP of Legal and Government Affairs to fight the laws of other countries like Belgium that actually don't allow their children to be exploited and involved in illegal gambling. EA's new Dept also is in charge of encouraging the citizens of such countries to protest until EA is allowed to run their illegal operation unhindered in said countries.

If you can buy loot boxes with real world money and take a chance on getting something rare which you can sell for more real world money than you paid for it then how can that not be called gambling?
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#5
zlobby
Sounds like gambling with extra steps.
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#6
Vayra86
zlobby, post: 4067538, member: 172939"
Sounds like gambling with extra steps.
And always online conditions :D

EA Sales Pitch
"Here, take this digital item' You can only access it with our key that you will never truly own or control. We have more digital items as well! You will never truly know what's inside them until you buy! Not good enough? Fine, how about this, we release a new version of the game every year making all your previous purchases worthless!"

"Too rich for your blood then? No problem, we have EA Access, where you can get an equally vague selection of games to buy and never truly own and any time of the day we may change the rules entirely! Best of all, its super cheap to own nothing, and you can STILL buy lootboxes as you please!"

And people defend this saying its a great concept, mind. Main argument: 'its cheap!' :banghead:
Posted on Reply
#7
64K
Vayra86, post: 4067545, member: 152404"
And always online conditions :D

EA Sales Pitch
"Here, take this digital item' You can only access it with our key that you will never truly own or control. We have more digital items as well! You will never truly know what's inside them until you buy! Not good enough? Fine, how about this, we release a new version of the game every year making all your previous purchases worthless!"

"Too rich for your blood then? No problem, we have EA Access, where you can get an equally vague selection of games to buy and never truly own and any time of the day we may change the rules entirely! Best of all, its super cheap to own nothing, and you can STILL buy lootboxes as you please!"

And people defend this saying its a great concept, mind.
Most adults that I know don't defend EA's practices very much. It's mostly the naive kids that fall for such nonsense and that's the problem. EA is exploiting children's naivete. It's sickening imo.
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#8
neatfeatguy
Sounds like someone stumbled across the movie "Thank You for Smoking" and tried to spit out their own PR crap.

"a UK parliament session that loot boxes in video games are surprise mechanics that aren't any different from Kinder eggs or from any other "Surprise!" factor product "
"We do think the way that we have implemented these kinds of mechanics...is actually quite ethical and quite fun, quite enjoyable to people".

My kids like getting the occasional Kinder Egg. They think the toys that come in them are nice to have (for about 10 seconds), but they mainly get them because they like the candy. They spend more time eating the candy in them then they do playing with the tiny toy that comes in them. A Kinder Egg is not the same as a loot box. Loot boxes have abysmal chances to obtain "high end" or "highly sought after" items. After someone drops X amount of money and finally gets something really good/rare, they feel awesome! They figure if they spend X amount again they'll land something else awesome.....sounds like slot machines to me. Folks sit and dump money into slot machines and eventually win big. They love that feeling so they continue to dump more money into the slot machines in hopes of getting that winning high again.

I personally see no difference between the changes you have at getting high, quality items in a loot box (a jackpot win) and winning big (jackpot) on slot machines. But what do I know....? I'm not government nor a high paid employee with a stupid title at a large company, so I guess I don't know what I'm talking about. All I know is that I don't let my kids take advantage of loot boxes in games. We don't have consoles and any iPad/Kindle we have do not have active credit cards tied to them, so no accidental purchases can be made when the kids play games on them.
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#9
Vayra86
64K, post: 4067549, member: 148270"
Most adults that I know don't defend EA's practices very much. It's mostly the naive kids that fall for such nonsense and that's the problem. EA is exploiting children's naivete. It's sickening imo.
Well, I frequent a Dutch site called Tweakers.net and its full of adults and 18-20+ and that is the sentiment you read a lot. Short term gain vs zero notion of how this will ass rape the industry AND consumers at large.

EA is actively trying to mold PC/console gaming towards the mobile-based gaming cash cow industry. Repetitive pay-per-use content with no substance and filled with psychological trickery to keep players hooked. EA is for gaming what the crystal meth dealer is for junkies.
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#10
altcapwn
Damn I hate EA, even more now.
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#11
john_
"Surprise Mechanics, Quite Ethical"
Translation: Cheats that you can buy. Not so ethical, but profitable.

JMO of course...
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#12
64K
john_, post: 4067563, member: 137560"
"Surprise Mechanics, Quite Ethical"
Translation: Cheats that you can buy. Not so ethical, but profitable.

JMO of course...
It used to be that a lot of games came with cheat codes where people could cheat if they wanted to. Now they don't come with cheat codes because the Publishers want to sell the cheats with microtransactions. For people that want to cheat I always recommend a trainer. Not all of them are free but they are cheaper to buy than a lot of microtransactions and possibly denying the Publisher the easy extra income of microtransactions will one day discourage this behavior.
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#13
lexluthermiester


I wonder what the smell was like in Parliament House while that statement was being made. They must have needed hip-boots and nose-plugs...
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#14
Darmok N Jalad
It’s technically not gambling because gambling in the traditional sense involves putting money down in the hopes of winning a reward with value. In EA’s case, they are selling a random reward, but it has no definable cash value. It’s essentially following the same psychological principle that makes gambling so addictive, but they get around it by making the “payout” a part of the game, and that payout is technically not even your property, based on how games are licensed.

They also indirectly prey on minors knowing there are clueless or permissive parents out there. Even the responsible parents pay a price before they realize this is a thing their kid has done and manage to shut it down. So yeah, what EA is doing might be legal, but I wouldn’t call it ethical. They’ve essentially built a gambling system where the player never really wins, but never realizes it because it passes as an experience.
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#15
lexluthermiester
Vayra86, post: 4067552, member: 152404"
EA is actively trying to mold PC/console gaming towards the mobile-based gaming cash cow industry. Repetitive pay-per-use content with no substance and filled with psychological trickery to keep players hooked. EA is for gaming what the crystal meth dealer is for junkies.
And this is exactly why EA needs to go the way of the dodo and why I actively avoid their products.
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#16
AsRock
TPU addict
WOW, F*uck EA's excuses in f*ck Fuck EA, As a parent EA's DEAD to me, well pretty much was before but digging a whole now you just berried your self's. F*ck You too EA . And i truly hope that other parents do the same.

Compareing Kinda Egg to their shit loot boxes, F U, and not the same as you still get some thing with a Kinda Egg well unless you buy the US version which sucks HA.
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#17
Basard
TheLostSwede, post: 4067528, member: 3382"
Because no kids have ever borrowed their parents credit card to buy loot boxes...
My parents would have ended my life if i ever did such a thing lol.
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#18
steve360
This is the most indefensible legal bullcrap I have ever heard.

I hope the bill to ban loot boxes and microtransactions passes Congress because EA deserves every kick to the balls they get.
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#19
64K
steve360, post: 4067605, member: 132641"
This is the most indefensible legal bullcrap I have ever heard.

I hope the bill to ban loot boxes and microtransactions passes Congress because EA deserves every kick to the balls they get.
In case anyone isn't familiar with the bill here is an article about it:

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/05/senator-hawley-announces-bill-banning-loot-boxes-pay-to-win-mechanics/

tbh I don't think it's going to go anywhere. The ESA (Entertainment Software Association) already points to countries like Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom who have already determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.
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#20
lexluthermiester
64K, post: 4067614, member: 148270"
The ESA (Entertainment Software Association) already points to countries like Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom who have already determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.
Yes, but the United States has a particular disdain for gambling and it's very heavily regulated. Lootbox's might be viewed as "chance gamble" mechanism's. That bill could happen.
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#21
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Raevenlord, post: 4067518, member: 166527"
...lootboxes are gambling is also very fun and very ethical experiences in the way EA has casinos have implemented them...
EA: "We're a casino now!"

Seriously, how is a lootbox any different than interacting with a slot machine?

Vayra86, post: 4067520, member: 152404"
Seriously, this company and its people. I wonder how they sleep at night. There is a special place in hell, I hope.
Even mass murderers with dozens of witnesses get defense attorneys. Not a position I envy.
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#22
Easo
But of course they do.
Corporations by themselves are not bad, but EA is the example of most of things what can be wrong with them.
They really should think not if they can, but if they should.
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#23
advanced3
Kids ruin everything for adults.
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#24
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
64K, post: 4067614, member: 148270"
In case anyone isn't familiar with the bill here is an article about it:

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/05/senator-hawley-announces-bill-banning-loot-boxes-pay-to-win-mechanics/

tbh I don't think it's going to go anywhere. The ESA (Entertainment Software Association) already points to countries like Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom who have already determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.
I think the UK is a problem within itself... Ignoring brexit for a second. There was a time when highstreets were dominated by 'bookies' places like Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, William Hill etc etc and the UK Gov has been slow to tackle them as well as the 'slot machines' that a lot of them have inside. Its like they want you to be in debt so you end up dying in the gutter with nothing to your name or your family.
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#25
Xpect
lexluthermiester, post: 4067616, member: 134537"
Yes, but the United States has a particular disdain for gambling and it's very heavily regulated. Lootbox's might be viewed as "chance gamble" mechanism's. That bill could happen.
True. Germany is relatively lax with gambling in comparison. We have ads for online betting sites and online casinos on TV.
We also have female breasts shown uncensored around noon or rather any time, if it is needed for the topic or entertainment and not the obvious Main Focus.
But out movies and Games need to be cut because the US Originals are often too violent for our censors. Or have Nazi stuff in them

Back to topic, I really would wish those lootboxes would disappear.
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