EA absurdly argues video game lootboxes are ‘surprise mechanics’

We're getting some 'sense of pride and accomplishment' vibes all up in here.

Kick it down the road.

Did you think EA had maybe learned its lesson from the whole Star Wars Battlefront lockbox meltdown back in 2017, when the uproar over the game’s abusive and greedy monetization was so widespread that it ultimately tipped actual world governments into legislating video game gambling?

If so, I have a surprise for you. A “surprise mechanic,” if you will. I’m not even gonna charge you for it.

EA VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins spoke before the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee today to inform said committee that EA’s lockboxes are all above board, ethical, and fun. No shenanigans here, no sir.

“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. […] We do agree with the UK gambling commission, the Australian gambling commission, and many other gambling commissions that they 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.”

You know, products like *checks notes* “Kinder Eggs, or Hatchimals, or LOL Surprise.” Which are also garbage gambleboxes aimed at children, lurking on every damn shop endcap, the bane of parents everywhere. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Then again, this is the company that insisted its awful business model was intended to give SWBF players a “sense of pride and accomplishment.” So this kind of spin isn’t exactly unprecedented.

Incidentally, earlier today we published a piece covering the latest research on the topic, which found a connection between gambling addiction and lootbox purchases in adolescents – a connection even stronger than that previously found for adults.

Source: UK Parliament via PCGN. Cheers, Ark.
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Damon Anderson

When lootboxes or whatever you want to call them are a forced element of a game or it’s progression it is questionable ethically I think. I like the way SWL had lootboxes that you could simply sell for in game currency if you chose or you could purchase a key if you chose for a chance at cool loot, that’s fun.


“quite fun, quite enjoyable to people”
So is gamble


Reminds me of how one company got upset with the term “lockboxes” and preferred lootboxes. Literally turning this into an argument of semantics while dodging the real issues at hand.

Anton Mochalin

EA is an easy target, good luck playing the same game with Perfect World Entertainment or Tencent.

Denice J. Cook

Yeah…Surprise! EA isn’t going to give up all its gambling mula without a huge fight!

That’s the real surprise he means.


I love the heading used by GamesIndustry.biz for their report on that same hearing:

Epic and EA execs squirm under scrutiny from British MPs
Testimonies arouse suspicion and dismay from members of immersive and addictive technology inquiry


Paid-for-lootboxes ARE gambling.

Its just that straightforwards. In every sense of the word it is gambling.

Also, having read the statements from the various gambling commissions around the world, they all agree too! The only difference is that the gambling commissions are only allowed to regulate certain types of gambling, rather than all gambling. In the UK specifically, they’re only allowed to regulate gambling that involves real life monetary rewards. That’s how EA and others are getting around the issue of regulation: its not that lootboxes aren’t gambling, it’s just they’re not the specific type of gambling that requires legislation / control.

But, just because lootboxes are a type of gambling that currently isn’t regulated, doesnt mean they aren’t causing harm.

Also, regardless of whether you think they need regulating or not, or whether they are techically gambling or not, can we not all agree that they are simply a terrible idea designed to fleece consumers out of money?

If EA (and others) were actually being ethical, they’d immediately get rid of all lootboxes and simply put the rewards in their cash shop so we could buy them directly. That would be ethical, honest and appreciated by the community.

Anyway, just another reason for me to continue boycotting EA.

Kickstarter Donor

I can see a government realizing how much money is involved and going Surprise Surprise gaming industry we just changed the legislation to include you, now where’s our share. /s


We need Schwag to modify the “surprise motherf**ker” gif to include EA somehow :)

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Now this is a surprise.

Bryan Correll

You just wasted your money. Surprise!