After a similar lawsuit was filed in California, video game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) is facing more legal action in the form of a class-action lawsuit filed in Canada.
The joint Plaintiffs, Mark Sutherland and Shawn Moore, assert that the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits unlawful gaming, betting, lotteries, and games of chance and that a mechanic called “loot boxes” fit that description.
Loot boxes are used in more than 60 games published by EA (and are rampant in the industry as a whole) including mobile games, major sports game releases like the Madden NFL, FIFA, and the NHL series, and more. Users can spend real money on an item that when redeemed, has a randomized chance to contain a further series of virtual items. The issue comes from loot boxes having no guarantee of containing items of a certain value. You spend money in the hopes of getting an item of value or an item you want (which sounds an awful lot like gambling).
Also, while it isn’t mentioned as an issue directly related to the lawsuit, there are also reports of predatory practices being implemented into the system including a so-called “pity timer”, which increases the odds of getting a better item if you haven’t received one after a certain threshold. This might sound positive, however, what it actually means is that opening more loot boxes gives you better odds, which translates to: spend more money to increase your chances of winning.
Since EA doesn’t hold a gambling license in either region the plaintiffs are from (British Columbia and Ontario), Sutherland and Moore are seeking damages and is also being filed on behalf of any other Canadian customer who purchased, directly or indirectly, a loot box in an EA title.
Feature image courtesy of Pet Food Industry via petfoodindustry.com