A class action lawsuit has been filed against EA Games in Canada, with the complainants essentially arguing that EA is profiting off an illegal gambling methods by selling so called randomized loot boxes for cash. It’s a very similar lawsuit filed against EA in California this past August, which alleged that FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode is essentially gambling. Though you always get something from a loot box in FIFA, you don’t know what it will be.
The lawsuit is being brought against EA by a pair who describe themselves as customers of EA. One mentioned to have purchased loot boxes for EA’s Madden NFL games, while the other bought loot boxes for various NHL games. The action is being brought against EA on behalf of everyone who purchased loot boxes in any of Electronic Art’s games since around 2008 when they were first implemented, which could conclude with EA paying out hundreds of millions of dollars if successful.
This isn’t the first time a lawsuit has been brought with loot boxes in mind, as other international precedents, such as Japanese and Korean enforcement of loot box regulation, the Netherlands and Belgium’s recent laws and regulations against loot boxes, and the loot box inquiries in progress in the UK and US. Their popularity exploded following Overwatch’s release in 2016. In some cases, such as with Star Wars Battlefront II, public opinion soured on games enough for the loot boxes or progression systems to be modified.
Another entity to be heavily involved with loot boxes and gambling is Valve Corporation, developer of gaming platform Steam and publisher of hot titles such as Counter-Strike, and Dota. Counter-Strike has been an infamous case of loot boxes and skins gambling back to 2013 and have had their fair share of scrutiny as well.
It is important to note that, as a class action lawsuit, this suit is a civil suit and thus has no bearing on government regulation — however a successful result for the complainants may put much needed scrutiny on the gaming industry and how game developers add loot boxes into their games.