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Surprise! EA rebrands Loot Boxes as "Surprise Mechanics"

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Source: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/0bf5f000-036e-4cee-be8e-c43c4a0879d4 (Timestamp: 15:43)

Source: https://www.pcgamesn.com/ea-loot-boxes

 

In a surprise to no-one, EA games is doubling down on their stance on Loot Boxes "Surprise Mechanics" in video games and believes there are absolutely no ethical concerns with loot boxes or any links to gambling.
 

While speaking at a committee with UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, EA Games Vice President of Legal Kerry Hopkins has claimed that EA refers to Loot Boxes as "Surprise Mechanics" and believes that they are fun, enjoyable, and ethical.

 

Quote

Kerry Hopkins, EA’s VP of legal and government affairs, insists that the company’s randomised purchases aren’t loot boxes, but rather “surprise mechanics.” In an oral evidence session with the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, Hopkins compares the mechanics to surprise toys, which have been around “for years, whether it’s Kinder Eggs, or Hatchimals, or LOL Surprise.”

 

In response to questions from Scottish National Party MP, Brendan O’Hara, Hopkins says “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.”

Source: https://www.pcgamesn.com/ea-loot-boxes

 

 

The exchange in questioning between Scottish National Party MP Brendan O’Hara and EA's VP of Legal Kerry Hopkins regarding loot boxes:

Quote

[O'Hara, MP] Do you consider Loot Boxes to be an ethical feature of your games?

 

[Hopkins, EA] Well first we don't call them loot boxes.

 

[O'Hara, MP] Whatever term you wish to apply to them.

 

[Hopkins, EA] So what we look at it as is surprise mechanics... but I think it's important to look at this. So if you go to a, I don't know what your version of target is but a store that sells a lot of toys, and you do a search for "surprise toys" what you will find is that this is something that people enjoy, they enjoy surprises. So it's something that has been part of toys for years whether it is Kinder Eggs, or hatchimals or LOL surprise. We do think the way we have implemented these kind of mechanics and of course FIFA is our big one, our FIFA Ultimate Team and our packs, is quite ethical and fun and enjoyable to people. We 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 is evidence that shows it leads to gambling. Instead we think it is like many other products that people enjoy in a very healthy way and like the element of surprise

 

[O'Hara, MP] Just to be absolutely clear; your loot boxes are surprise mechanics you have no ethical qualms whatsoever?

 

[Hopkins, EA] Uhh, so err. I think you're re-characterising my language. What I said is the way we implemented our FIFA ultimate team packs is ethical

 

[O'Hara, MP] Other than FIFA? Other games you provide? Do you have- Are you equally comfortable and relaxed about them?

 

[Hopkins, EA] For all of the games we have on the market that have a randomised content mechanic, a surprise mechanic, a loot box... Umm. I have no qualms that they are implemented in an unethical way.

...

 

[O'Hara, MP] Netherlands and Belgium have classified these 'surprise mechanics' as gambling, haven't they?

 

[Hopkins, EA] Belgium and Netherlands have taken a view a different view from every other gambling commission in the world

 

[O'Hara, MP] Why then would two of our European neighbours take that route

 

[Hopkins, EA] They have different gambling laws and in fact I'm not sure how familiar you are with their views but their views as to why these mechanics violate their laws are different. They're not the same view. They both have a very different interpretation and they have a different law and they decided - the regulator not the courts - under their local law that these mechanics under certain circumstances violate the law

 

[O'Hara, MP] and it was violating the law because you or a player was able to cash out in game items for real world value, is that right?

 

[Hopkins, EA] Would you like me to get in to the interpretation? The Belgium - No, that was not their view. Their view was that any loot box mechanic and randomised content mechanic if you paid for it automatically violated the law it didn't matter if there was external game sale. The dutch take a very different view and they say both paid and unpaid loot box mechanics violate the law but only if they can be traded. So there what you're seeing is regulators making an intepretation udner the local law that is quite different than what every other regulator in the European Federation of Gambling regulations have decided

 

[Someone else?] Sorry, but... To state just for the record for this you said it was for interpretation - both regulators interpreted loot boxes as being games of chance

 

[Hopkins, EA] They did but for different reasons under different laws

 

[O'Hara, MP] And so those mechanics are still available in the UK, is that right?

 

[Hopkins, EA] Both mechanics

 

[O'Hara, MP] Is there any evidence of players re-registering to play in other jurisdictions. So UK players or players from other European countries registering to play in Belgium or Holland where these mechanics don't apply

 

[Hopkins, EA] Sorry, can you repeat the question

 

[O'Hara, MP] Is there any evidence of game players registering from outside of holland and belgium to play in Holland and Belgium to avoid the loot box

 

[Hopkins, EA] Well in the Netherlands we still all of our mechanics are still available in the Netherlands. So the only change we made is that we umm we no longer sell FIFA points in Belgium uhh because that is the virtual currency used to purchase with money our FIFA packs. So in Belgium after with discussions with the government and regulators we made a business decision to turn off the sale of points in Belgium. That's the only change we've made. I have no evidence that anybody has reregistered in a different country to avoid that, no. And because it's around purchase it would be difficult because it's a purchase so you have a country that you're located in that your credit card is attached to

 

[O'Hara, MP] So, should we take it then that the response of your company would be that a Government would have to make a ruling and legislate against something before you would take action?

 

[Hopkins, EA] That is a really broad mis-charactersation. So we had two regulators in two countries who under their local laws had an interpretation of the law. One we ultimately decided to make a change in our game for business reasons, the other we are still in discussions both directly and with the industry because we disagree with the interpretation the regulator has made. There is a law, neither of these laws have been tested by the court or the interpretation has been tested by the court... So umm, I don't know if that answers your question.

 

[O'Hara, MP] I'm not sure if it does.

Source: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/0bf5f000-036e-4cee-be8e-c43c4a0879d4 (Timestamp: 15:43) (Note: I transcribed it so it could be written here. May include errors. Check the original recording)

 

 

So basically EA has realised that the term "loot boxes" is looked at in a negative light by gamers and has re-branded loot boxes to "surprise mechanics" in an attempt to justify them.

EA also disagrees with the rulings of other countries such as Belgium who banned loot boxes in games and denies that there is any link between loot boxes and gambling. I'm not sure what the distinction is between gambling and "surprise mechanics". Doesn't gambling involve surprise mechanics? I know I'd be surprised if I won the lottery!


What are your thoughts about 'Surprise Mechanics' in video games?


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I want this bill to pass so EA suffers. They've killed so many studios, pushed so many horrible practices. This would hit them where it hurts. Their FIFA Ultimate Team. 


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Well you could this a... surprise mechanic.

(•_•)

( •_•)>⌐■-■

(⌐■_■)


The ability to google properly is a skill of its own. 

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kindersurprise.jpg

 

Banned

Surprise... not surprised


Awareness is key. Never enough, even in the face of futility. Speak the truth as if you may never get to say it again. This world is full of ugly. Change it they say. The only way is to reveal the ugly. To change the truth you must first acknowledge it. Never pretend it isn't there. Never bend the knee.

 

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So in essence....it's a slot machine. 


Please tag me if you need assistance or if you want me to contribute to a topic 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
Quote

[O'Hara, MP] So, should we take it then that the response of your company would be that a Government would have to make a ruling and legislate against something before you would take action?  

I was really surprised by EA's response to this. Their response was essentially a non-response and seemed to try to avoid the question.
Normally tech companies are strongly in favour of self regulation rather than government regulation. I would imagine that it would be in EA's best interest to at least pretend to be willing to self-regulate in order to avoid government regulation, however it seems that EA's response is that they see nothing wrong, disagree with other countries who have regulated against them, and EA will keep doing it as long as they keep making money out of it.

 

Quote

we ultimately decided to make a change in our game for business reasons,

Lol... If by 'business reasons' you mean Belgium wouldn't allow you to sell your games in their country unless you made the changes, then sure.


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2 hours ago, Arika S said:

i'm fine with "loot boxes" or what ever bullshit name EA wants to slap on them. PROVIDED they are not in a game you have to buy. Free to play? go nuts.

And provided that they don't give you an advantage over those who don't buy them.

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just listening to the line of questioning is cringeworthy.

I'm sorry guys but spend 20 mintues listening to the panel. They have very little knowledge of the tech that surrounds this topic.

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Hey EA...

YOU SHOULD JUST STOP...

 

Now surprise mechanics will be looked upon negatively and then ANOTHER ONE would have to me made, Same goes with anything, If for example you replace no with octopus, now they'll look at the word octopus negatively


You can change this by going into your account settings, going down to your signature tab and Typing whatever fits within the rules.

 

Your welcome

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There's a differential factor between a loot box and a surprise toy.

 

When you buy a toy you are guaranteed to get something for your money, something that's tangible and has a real world value.

 

A loot box is virtual, it doesn't really exist and as such it could be argued that the intention is to remove the customer from the fact they're spending money. The reason casinos use chips isn't just for security, a customer is more likely to keep gambling with chips because it's not real money and the same applies to loot boxes and virtual currency.


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12 minutes ago, Master Disaster said:

There's a differential factor between a loot box and a surprise toy.

 

When you buy a toy you are guaranteed to get something for your money, something that's tangible and has a real world value.

 

A loot box is virtual, it doesn't really exist and as such it could be argued that the intention is to remove the customer from the fact they're spending money. The reason casinos use chips isn't just for security, a customer is more likely to keep gambling with chips because it's not real money and the same applies to loot boxes and virtual currency.

True but it seems that their point of contention is only the randomized part of the situation. Suggesting that if they allowed you to, say, pay for CR7 in Fifa with 100% certainty that you will get him, they wouldn't have much problems with the boxes. Even if he is virtual and as intangible as the other lootbox content 😉


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I cannot fucking wait to see how Jim Sterling tears this apart.


The Chinese Government is a crime against humanity.

Communism is morally equivalent to Nazism.

Communism is poison.

 

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The only way to deal with companies like this is too simply stop buying their products. If you buy anything from EA.. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM... EA are just trying to get away with what YOU ALLOW THEM TOO.

 

You: Take my money

EA: We've decided we want more

You: OK, take more money

EA: That game you bought, we've removed features and content... do you want it for £xx

You Take even more of my money

EA: Hey, sucker... want a random chance to get something cool

You: Will it help me win the game?

EA: LOL... NOPE

You: Take my money

 

Now it's proven that they use psychological methods to deceive people, social media use the exact same deceptions and manipulations... So it's the easily influenced and gullible that tend to fall for it... Worse still is that those easily susceptible to addiction are even more likely to fall for these things.

 

So if people are too gullible to realise that they're being scammed and manipulated by these companies, or they've simply become addicted to them... We need proper legislation to regulate it, Belgium has take the right move and I hope more countries follow suit. 'Loot boxes' by any name are a nasty, nasty thing and are designed purely to trick those who are most in need of protection from them.

 

Also... FUCK EA in general... If you buy anything from them you should stop immediately. I've boycotted them for more than a decade now... I will never give them a penny of my money ever again.

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2 hours ago, Anomnomnomaly said:

So if people are too gullible to realise that they're being scammed and manipulated by these companies, or they've simply become addicted to them... We need proper legislation to regulate it

You can't protect people from their own stupidity.  At some point, people have to just suffer the consequences of their own poor choices in life.

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2 hours ago, Jito463 said:

You can't protect people from their own stupidity.  At some point, people have to just suffer the consequences of their own poor choices in life.

So we should stop offering help to addicts then?  Because that's exactly what's going on here... and addiction is a recognisable and well defined medical/mental health condition.

 

An addict is an addict whether they're taking heroin, drinking or gambling. Once they decide they need help they should be able to get it.

 

But then again, I live in a country where healthcare is a basic right rather than something only for those who can pay through the nose for it.

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8 hours ago, huilun02 said:

kindersurprise.jpg

 

Banned

Surprise... not surprised

Actually... Those are banned in the US! Cause the plastic eggs inside is considered a choking hazard.

The closest thing we ever got was a candy called a "Wonder ball" which was hollow chocolate with like smaller candies inside.

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