Loot Boxes Are More Like Kinder Eggs than Gambling Says EA Boss

EA vice president of legal Kerry Hopkins has reignited the loot box debate after likening them to chocolate treats rather than a type of gambling.

Addressing UK MPs in Parliament, the video game executive said the add-ons were “ethical” and “fun” rather than a social concern.

EA Kerry Hopkins loot boxes

EA vice president of legal Kerry Hopkins has said loot boxes are fun rather than a form of gambling. (Image: The Sun/Dream Team)

Over the past two years, loot boxes have made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Following a petition by one gamer, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) was called to investigate.

Loot Boxes Continue to Cause Debate

Reviewing the way loot boxes appear in video games, the regulator acknowledged that they blur the lines. Although the prizes in a box can be worth more or less than its cost, the UKGC’s Tim Miller said the lack of real-world transferability matters.

Under its definition, something can only be classed as gambling if the prize can be traded outside of the game. In that respect, loot box prizes don’t have the same transferable value as money won from casino games.

Despite this conclusion, anti-gambling advocates have called for the in-game extras to be outlawed. Indeed, with their value topping £32 billion per year, many believe they pose a risk to minors.

Fun Surprises Rather than Greedy Gambles

During her parliamentary speech, Hopkins refuted the suggestion that loot boxes were a form of gambling. Instead, she equated them to the type of “surprise” someone would receive when they bought a Kinder Egg.

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,” Hopkins told MPs.

Although EA removed loot boxes from certain games in 2018 following public backlash, one journalist believes it’s not enough. Speaking to the BBC, Ryan Brown said most players actively dislike them.

“When you speak to any gamer, even gamers who do buy those games and do buy into those loot boxes, none of them are happy with it,” Brown told BBC Newsbeat.

Market May Dictate Whether Loot Boxes Disappear

If Brown’s assertion is correct, the law of supply and demand could dictate the fate of loot boxes. Although anti-gambling advocates will want to see MPs respond to Hopkins’ speech with direct action, the market may ultimately decide.

If gamers stop paying for the chance to win a random prize, developers will eventually stop including them in games. However, until that happens, it seems the controversial boxes will continue to exist in a grey area.

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