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Are loot boxes considered gambling? A pair of disgruntled gamers from Canada certainly believe so.

Mark Sutherland and Shawn Moore have filed a class action lawsuit against EA, alleging that the publishing giant is running an illegal gambling operation based on its propensity for using loot boxes as a means of monetization. The crux of the issue is that a license is required for gambling, but EA doesn’t hold one in the region.

“The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits unlawful gaming, betting, lotteries, and games of chance,” a portion of the filing (via GamesIndustry.biz) reads. “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. Through this suit, Canadian consumers seek to hold the Defendants accountable for this unlawful conduct, and to recover their losses.”

While loot boxes are an obvious staple of EA’s sports games (e.g., FIFA, Madden NFL, NHL), the court filing lists numerous other titles and their monetization features. These include Mass Effect 3’s BioWare Points, Mass Effect: Andromeda’s Andromeda Points, Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Platinum currency, Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Cartel Coins, and Battlefield 1’s Battlepacks.

This isn’t the first time that EA has been sued over loot boxes. In August, the company was sued by a California resident for FIFA’s Ultimate Team packs and their “predatory” design.

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7 Comments

  1. At least in Mass Effect 3 you always got something you needed in the lootboxes. And the system was extremely fair if you didn’t want to spend real money on them. Andromeda, on the other hand, was down right predatory.

  2. I have a hard time calling it gambling unless there is a chance of monetary reward. If you can’t cash in your chips after playing…

    You aren’t required to buy the game in the first place – only if you want to play the game. The same thing for these loot boxes – nothing is making you buy them, only if you want to play the game.

    Predatory? Probably. But that’s the entire entertainment industry in general – they want your money, and the only thing they have to offer for it is something that makes you smile. If you can’t help but give them too much of your money, I don’t really see that as a fault in the entertainment industry. Everything the entertainment industry has to offer is optional – none of it is needed to live or work – you can do without any of it. Life is just a little happier when you can afford to get a bit of it though. If you can’t afford it, then don’t buy it. And I’ll recognize there may be some people who just can’t do that – but I don’t feel it’s the responsibility of the gaming or entertainment industry to help those people. At least any more than it’s the responsibility of McDonalds to keep people from getting fat, or La-Z-Boy from keeping people from getting enough exercise, or Casinos from keeping people from dropping too many coins in the slots.

  3. What Andromeda did was introduce a time lock mechanic to earn more credits to get loot boxes, which was a time worn mechanic in mobile games. In the time it would have taken me to completely unlock everything for a class in ME3 I probably only unlocked around one-quarter to maybe one-third of it in Andromeda. I tried to play their game of keeping my “squad” upgraded while at work to try and unlock things faster, but this ultimately led to my decision to just stop playing the game altogether. I realized that they were just intentionally wasting my time in the hope that I would spend real money, so I said f-them.

  4. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 21831, member: 180″]
    I realized that they were just intentionally wasting my time in the hope that I would spend real money, so I said f-them.
    [/QUOTE]
    This is exactly how this trend should be combated. Not legislation or regulation, but just by people deciding not to fall into the trap of funding it.

    Companies only do it because it makes them money.

  5. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 21675, member: 96″]
    I have a hard time calling it gambling unless there is a chance of monetary reward. If you can’t cash in your chips after playing…

    You aren’t required to buy the game in the first place – only if you want to play the game. The same thing for these loot boxes – nothing is making you buy them, only if you want to play the game.

    Predatory? Probably. But that’s the entire entertainment industry in general – they want your money, and the only thing they have to offer for it is something that makes you smile. If you can’t help but give them too much of your money, I don’t really see that as a fault in the entertainment industry. Everything the entertainment industry has to offer is optional – none of it is needed to live or work – you can do without any of it. Life is just a little happier when you can afford to get a bit of it though. If you can’t afford it, then don’t buy it. And I’ll recognize there may be some people who just can’t do that – but I don’t feel it’s the responsibility of the gaming or entertainment industry to help those people. At least any more than it’s the responsibility of McDonalds to keep people from getting fat, or La-Z-Boy from keeping people from getting enough exercise, or Casinos from keeping people from dropping too many coins in the slots.
    [/QUOTE]

    I think the mechanic is indeed gambling. Gambling doesn’t always have a cash payout. You can gamble for pretty much anything. In the case of loot boxes, you gamble on the chance for loot you want with no guarantee you will ever get it.

  6. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 21831, member: 180″]
    What Andromeda did was introduce a time lock mechanic to earn more credits to get loot boxes, which was a time worn mechanic in mobile games. In the time it would have taken me to completely unlock everything for a class in ME3 I probably only unlocked around one-quarter to maybe one-third of it in Andromeda. I tried to play their game of keeping my “squad” upgraded while at work to try and unlock things faster, but this ultimately led to my decision to just stop playing the game altogether. I realized that they were just intentionally wasting my time in the hope that I would spend real money, so I said f-them.
    [/QUOTE]

    I been playing apex legends since launch, and while I miss out on a lot of loot/skins/cosmetics/whatever I have not spent a euro on the game, free to play is free to play.

  7. [QUOTE=”Denpepe, post: 21889, member: 284″]
    I been playing apex legends since launch, and while I miss out on a lot of loot/skins/cosmetics/whatever I have not spent a euro on the game, free to play is free to play.
    [/QUOTE]
    I stopped playing Team Fortress 2 a long time ago due to needing to spend $2.50 to open a crate, and those items were not always purely cosmetic. I think I spent around $15 before realizing how idiotic it was. I have not spent a single dime on “surprise mechanics” since.

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