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A hot potato: Loot boxes have always been a contentious part of video games, and they became a worldwide issue following Electronic Arts’ decision to implement versions with pay-to-win elements in 2017’s Battlefront 2. The company is now facing a class-action lawsuit in Canada that alleges its loot boxes violate the country’s Criminal Code.
As per The Patch Notes, the case revolves around an argument many governments and politicians have made previously: that loot boxes constitute a form of gambling. Because EA does not hold a gambling license in the region, a pair of Canadians claim it is operating an unlicensed gambling business.
The suit covers a number of EA games that include loot boxes, from Madden and FIFA to Mass Effect and Apex Legends. Mark Sutherland and Shawn Moore, who have brought the case, bought loot box items in Madden and NHL, respectfully.
The plaintiffs also claim that by not publishing the odds of winning prizes and making loot box purchases occasionally necessary for progression without hours of grinding, EA is breaching various consumer protection statutes.
The Patch writes that “This is not a self-represented litigant filing a nuisance lawsuit, but a well-pled claim brought by an experienced legal team who specializes in going after large corporations for stuff like this.”
In terms of damages, the plaintiffs are seeking essentially everything EA has made through selling loot boxes since 2008, which would be a stunning amount of money. The three-week time limit EA has to file a response ends this week.
Before EA changed the game, a redditor worked out that it took “4,528 hours of gameplay (or $2,100) to unlock all base-game content in Star Wars Battlefront 2.” In 2019, the company said loot boxes, which they referred to as "surprise mechanics," were "quite ethical and quite fun," comparing them to Kinder eggs.
This isn't the only legal challenge to loot boxes EA is facing. A similar class action lawsuit was filed against the firm in California earlier this year. Specifically, it claims that FIFA Ultimate Team violates the state's anti-gambling statute.