Loot boxes are booming in the gaming world these days, thanks in part to Overwatch’s massive success with the format. But after EA’s recent loot box system in Star Wars Battlefront 2 drew massive criticism from the gaming community, both Belgium and the Netherlands are investigating whether loot boxes are gambling. EA has since come out with a response.
“Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA,” the company explained in an official statement to GameSpot. “The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront 2 are not gambling. A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates.”
EA stresses that players can “earn crates” in-game without spending money, and that players are “always guaranteed to receive content” no matter what’s in the loot box. That definitely complicates the investigation into loot boxes, in part because players aren’t gambling for all or nothing. Loot boxes’ appeal rests on whether players will grab rare or coveted items. And to be fair to EA, that isn’t all that much different than, say, buying a Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card pack to grab a rare monster.
But more importantly, EA has an enormous incentive in keeping its loot box system alive. Earlier this week, the company revealed that it’s interested in building a financial model based on subscription services and microtransactions. If loot boxes are heavily regulated in regions like Western Europe, that means EA’s profits from the system will most likely decrease. Regulating loot boxes would essentially limit EA’s “uncapped” revenue from the system, which is sure to upset the publisher’s executives.