EA’s Record Revenue Not Without Controversy

By Ben Hamill - February 06 2020

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Fancy yourself up for assembling the ultimate digital soccer team and willing to spend a couple of dollars on the offchance of that happening? Then you had better act quick because leading video games developer Electronic Arts (EA) may soon find itself out from under its ultimate money-maker. The company last week announced that it had made an astonishing US$1 billion in microtransactions during the quarter that ended on December 31st last year.

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But there’s another side to the coin because the company will soon have to answer to two separate lawsuits filed with French prosecutors claiming that the loot boxes for sale on EA’s FIFA 20 Ultimate Team mode platform are no more than masqueraded gambling applications not particularly fond of yielding returns.

Loot Boxes Not A New Problem

This will not have been the first time that the issue of loot boxes for sale for real money by EA has come under the spotlight. Some countries have even gone as far as having classified loot boxes as full-on gambling, eventually obligating EA to remove loot box offerings from the relevant areas of distribution.

The plaintiff in one of the two French lawsuits, represented by local Paris-based attorney Victor Zagury, claims to have spent a smashing $664 over the course of only 5 months, having relentlessly tried during this time to acquire at least one or two players of his choice in order to get his ultimate dream team going. But despite the small fortune spent by Zagury’s client, the only player he claims to have secured during this time was a player completely unknown to him and by no means the big shot he had been gunning for.

The 32-year-old driver by profession furthermore claims to have fallen behind on his monthly rent obligations as a direct result of his having grown addicted to chasing the EA Ultimate Team dream. Both of the plaintiffs in the mentioned lawsuits have approached the court for an order that will leave EA with no other option but to reveal the code behind its loot boxes.

Markets Divided On Loot Boxes

The issue with loot boxes appears to be not as much the fact that it constitutes gambling in the here and now but instead that it has the potential to create problem-gambling later on in adult life. This is an opinion held by many, not excluding global industry influencer and watchdog, the UK Gambling Commission.

Various governments are currently looking into whether or not loot boxes necessitate being classified as gambling, or at least as a feature requiring a specific age restriction. As for EA, the gaming giant had better tread carefully around the various issues surrounding loot boxes if it has any hopes of continuing to ride the wave of its current micro-transactional high.

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