Electronic Arts faces lawsuit for illegal gambling in Canada
By Bob Garcia
Video game behemoth Electronic Arts is facing a lawsuit for running an unlicensed and illegal gambling system. The lawsuit, filed in Canada, is over EA’s use of loot boxes in its games.
“Loot boxes are considered part of the compulsion loop of game design to keep players invested in a game. Such compulsion loops are known to contribute towards videogame addiction and are frequently compared to gambling addiction,” the lawsuit notes. “This is in part due to the use of a ‘variable-rate reinforcement schedule’ similar to how slot machines dole out prizes and it is especially dangerous for children. The random element also makes players more likely to pay for the chance to ‘win’ an item from a loot box.”
The suit goes on to say that loot boxes in Electronic Arts games “all function in a substantially similar fashion.”
The loot boxes in question are either purchased with real money or by using an intermediate virtual currency. Some loot box items give players certain in-game advantages, which makes them highly desirable. But the lawsuit also implies that items sold that don’t affect gameplay still have a sneaky attraction.
“(Apex Legends) cosmetic items are associated with player prestige, and in particular rare cosmetic items will provide a player with more prestige than common ones,” the lawsuit states. “Players who use the default avatars are looked down on by other players. There is therefore an incentive for players to purchase multiple loot boxes in order to obtain more valuable and more prestigious rare cosmetic items.”
The lawsuit alleges loot boxes are “a game of chance inside a videogame,” which is basically a form of unlawful gambling.
“Gaming is strictly controlled and licensed in this country. In breach of these laws, the defendants have operated an unlicensed, illegal gaming system through their loot boxes,” notes the lawsuit. “Through this suit, Canadian consumers seek to hold the defendants accountable for this unlawful conduct, and to recover their losses.”