Electronic Arts has reiterated its belief that loot boxes are not comparable to gambling.
EA has received increasing amounts of criticism for its implementation of loot boxes in its games in recent months. In particular the ill-fated Star Wars: Battlefront II put the company in the crosshairs of several European gambling commissions.
“We are working with all the industry associations globally and with regulators in various jurisdictions and territories, [and] have established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling,” Electronic Arts’ CEO Andrew Wilson said during EA’s quarterly earning’s call, IGN reports.
This statement contradicts the report of the Belgian Gaming Commission on April 25. The Commission cited FIFA 18, Counter-Strike and Overwatch as examples of where loot boxes did constitute gambling, and threatened to ban the games if they aren’t removed.
Critics have argued that players were forced to purchase in-game items in order to progress at all in Battlefront II. The game was what initially led the Belgian Gaming Commission to launch an investigation into the overall legalities of loot boxes, although the Commission found that Battlefront‘s system did not constitute illegal gambling.
Wilson argued that the games they sell aren’t tantamount to gambling because of two key distinctions. “Firstly because players always receive a specified number of items in each pack, and secondly we don’t provide or authorize any way to cash out,” Wilson said during the earnings call.
This separates games like FIFA and Battlefront II from games such as CS:GO and Dota 2. These games feature a separate marketplace where prices for specific items can fluctuate, either directly on Steam or on third-party sites.
Even so, Electronic Arts may have to accommodate the various commissions across Europe in some way. Last year Activision Blizzard and Valve were forced to publicize the overall odds of receiving specific item drops from loot boxes after pressure from authorities in China.