The various Ultimate Team modes in EA's sports games now generate more income than brands like The Sims and Battlefield, so it's no surprise to see the publisher double-down on lucrative loot boxes - despite the threat of government regulation. That title has been a catalyst for discussion amongst US lawmakers about the predatory nature of loot boxes, though no legislation has been written to date.
The exec - unsurprisingly - insisted that loot boxes are not gambling and said that the firm was working with organisations around the world to establish this fact.
"We're always thinking about our players", Wilson said. We're always thinking about how to deliver these types of experiences in a transparent, fun, fair, and balanced way for our players.
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There's also the problem of unaffiliated services that allow players to exchange in-game items for real money.
"As you might imagine, we're working with all the industry associations globally and with regulators in various jurisdictions and territories, many of whom we've been working with for some time and have evaluated and established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling", Wilson said, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha.
A number of gambling regulators, including those of the Netherlands and Belgium, launched probes into loot boxes and whether buying them represented gambling. For its part, EA admits its ultimate Team modes in FIFA, Madden, the National Hockey League series, and NBA Live on PC, consoles, and mobile are its biggest live-service moneymakers. And because EA doesn't facilitate a way to sell the items for real-world money (like you would cash out chips at a casino) or assign a currency value to the FUT gear, it's acting within the law.
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EA has posted a $1.25 billion growth in revenue year-on-year last quarter in despite not releasing new games from its big franchises. This could explain why Wilson and his company are reluctant to remove loot boxes from their games.
The loot box debate has been an ongoing debate for a very long while and this recent comment from EA's CEO will probably just fuel the debate even further.
In the game, players were able to purchase loot boxes with real-world money (by proxy - players first needed to purchase in-game currency) and open them to receive randomized, gameplay-affecting rewards. "And we work with regulators in various jurisdictions to achieve that".
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