EA is being taken to court – again – over loot boxes. While in the past, it’s been governments that have tried to quell EA’s rampant use of loot boxes and other gambling mechanics, this marks the first time, in my memory, that private citizens have tried to hold the multi-billion dollar company accountable.
The civil action lawsuit is being instigated by two gentlemen, Mark Sutherland, who bought some stuff in the Madden games, and Shawn Moore, who did likewise in their NHL titles. The suit is seeking “damages for unjust enrichment arising from defendants" operation of an illegal gambling system through the sale of so-called ‘loot boxes’ in popular video games.” Despite their own purchases, they’ve opened the scope of this suit for other games in EA’s stable, like FIFA, Battlefield, and even Mass Effect.
The argument, which has been made before in other cases, is that since people don’t know what’s inside each loot box, it falls under the definition of “gambling” in Canada – and as it turns out, EA doesn’t have a gambling permit in that country.
It’s also worth noting, that this claim is unusually professional and well-argued, and appears to have been put together by an experienced legal team. So EA probably won’t be able to just ignore it, but their solution probably won’t be that surprising. They’ll probably settle with the gentlemen in the class action lawsuit, and then just make their loot boxes transparent, a measure that’s been taken by other companies in other countries around the world where this issue came up. Far, far from a perfect strategy or solution, but at least knowing what’s in each box makes it that much easier to overcome the temptation to buy them… even if it doesn’t eliminate the temptation to see what the next box might offer.
Still, I approve of anything that annoys EA.