Electronic Arts‘ Kerry Hopkins, the company’s VP of legal and government affairs, has defended EA’s use of loot boxes, stating that these microtransaction-assisted game mechanics are “quite ethical and quite fun.” Hopkins seems to like the term “surprise mechanics” as an alternative to “loot boxes.”
It’s worth remembering that the abundance of loot boxes in EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II caused quite the online uproar when the game launched in 2017, and these mechanics were soon after removed from the title.
Speaking to UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, in a discussion that PC Games N wrote up and shared online, Hopkins has compared loot boxes to surprise toys. She points out that such toys have been around “for years, whether it’s Kinder Eggs, or Hatchimals, or LOL Surprise.”
Later in the discussion, Hopkins said this: “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.”
She added: “We do agree with the UK gambling commission, the Australian gambling commission, and many other gambling commissions that they [loot boxes] 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.”
As PC Games N points out, this stance from Hopkins implies that she disagrees with the Dutch and Belgian regulators, who do believe that loot boxes are gambling. On that topic, Hopkins comments: “They decided – the regulator, not the courts – decided that under their local law, these mechanics under certain circumstances violate the law.”
You can watch the full discussion here. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as we hear more about governmental stances on loot boxes, and we’ll keep you updated as the debate continues about whether or not they count as gambling.