US advocacy groups call upon Federal Trade Commission to investigate EA over FIFA lockboxes

    
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Hot on the heels of Norway’s call for lootbox oversight, a non-profit org in the US is now trying to drum up support for a move against lockboxes of its own by writing an open letter to the Federal Trade Commission, which asks the government body to investigate Electronic Arts over FIFA’s lockbox monetization scheme.

The letter comes from Fairplay, an organization “dedicated to ending marketing to children.” The call to action by the FTC is backed by the Center for Digital Democracy and a coalition of 15 advocacy groups, and references the Norwegian Consumer Council’s report in its calling out of FIFA’s Ultimate Team lockbox monetization. The letter accuses EA of exploiting children with the FUT scheme, asserting that the developer relies on children’s “undeveloped financial literacy skills and poor understanding of the odds of receiving the most desirable loot box items.”

“By relentlessly marketing pay-to-win loot boxes, EA is exploiting children’s desire to compete with their friends, despite the fact that most adults, let alone kids, could not determine their odds of receiving a highly coveted card or what cards cost in real money,” Fairplay executive director Josh Golin writes. “The FTC must use its power to investigate these design abuses and determine just how many kids and teens are being fleeced by EA.”

This isn’t the first time the Ultimate Team lockboxes have gotten negative headlines. Readers will recall that EA and authorities from Belgium and the Netherlands had bitter fights over the scheme, with the countries in question finding the model to be akin to gambling and resulting in fines that were later rolled back. EA also found itself cast in a poor light over FUT lockboxes being advertised in a children’s toy catalogue, while EA has asserted the model is focused on “engagement.”

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