Loot Boxes and EA go together like…. Bangers and Mash, Pie and a Pint…Shady business practices and any money-grabbing corporation.
But it seems that we may soon be calling time on the Loot Box mechanic as EA is being sued via a Class Action Lawsuit in everyone’s favourite North American country… Canada.
Breaking via the Esports and gaming Law Blog, ‘The Patch Notes‘, The two plaintiffs, Mark Sutherland and Shawn Moore claim that by selling these Loot Boxes, EA is operating an unlicensed gambling business, claiming that:
loot boxes constitute gambling, and that EA is operating an unlicensed gambling business in breach of the Canadian Criminal Code. It also argues EA is liable to the plaintiffs under common law (including unjust enrichment) and has breached consumer protection statutes such as the BC Consumer Protection Act by failing to publish the odds of winning prizes and tying loot boxes to gameplay progression.
The pair also assert that the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits unlawful gaming, betting, lotteries and games of chance, which EA has allegedly broken.
As this is a Class Action Lawsuit, it means that the suit covers everyone in Canada that has ever brought a Loot Box in an EA title in Canada since 2008…that’s going to be a lot of people.
The one that started it all
The suit covers a huge list of games including (but not limited too): FIFA, Madden, Battlefield, Mass Effect, Need for Speed and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (The game that started this whole mess). Even Mobile Games such as Command & Conquer: Rivals and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes are mentioned as well. This also includes other titles that contain Loot Boxes that the Plaintiffs are unaware of.
If, and it’s a big if, the plaintiffs win, EA could be forced to pay back thousands, if not millions of dollars.
This isn’t the first time EA has been in trouble over Loot Boxes after ANOTHER Class Act Lawsuit was made against them in California last August, and they were promoting FIFA Loot Boxes in a UK toy magazine just last month.
You can read the entire Civil Claim here and decide for yourself.
What is the current law?
Canada currently has no law against Loot Boxes, much like France and New Zealand who say Loot Boxes are not classed as a form of gambling.
Japan and Korea recently passed laws stating that game companies must show the pay-out rate of items to the player.
Belgium and the Netherlands, on the other hand, have made them illegal, as they ‘constitute a form of Gambling’ in their eyes.
As for the UK, The Gambling Commission has said that Loot Boxes cannot be cashed out like ‘normal gambling’, therefore cannot be defined as gambling, however, the UK government has launched a call to both players and gaming companies about their experience with Loot Boxes. You can add your thoughts here.
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