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Loot boxes are not gambling, says former EA Sports president

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“The concept of surprise and delight vs gambling [are] a long way from each other”

Former EA Sports president Peter Moore has said that he does not view loot boxes as a form a gambling.

The games industry veteran shared his thoughts about the controversial method of monetisation during an interview with Moore, who had been president of EA Sports when the company introduced Ultimate Team to the FIFA franchise in 2008, compared the mode’s randomised packs to “collecting cigarette cards in the 1920s and ’30s” while pointing out that will players always receive something in return for their purchase.

“People loved it. I think that sense of uncertainty and ‘What are you going to get?’ and then bang, Ronaldo or Messi would roll out and that’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “You’re always getting something. It’s not like you opened it and there’s no players in there.”

Moore added that he personally does not equate Ultimate Team packs and randomised rewards in general as a form of gambling. “This is a personal view, but the concept of surprise and delight vs gambling… on a continuum, they’re a long way from each other,” he said.

“You buy or grind your way up to getting a gold pack, you open it up, and you’re either happy or you think it’s a crappy pack,” he added. “I don’t see that as gambling, per se – but again, this is my personal view as an outsider right now.”

Moore also believes that the game community as a whole has decided that loot boxes are something that people want, saying that “the numbers speak for themselves”. also pointed out that the Ultimate Team mode had made over US$1billion for EA in the past two years.

However, he also said that he “understands” the scrutiny loot boxes get outside of sports games, seemingly making a reference to Star Wars Battlefront II, although not directly mentioning the game.

“EA pulled back on that,” he noted. “One thing they’re always good at is getting feedback and realising, ‘You know what, probably shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘That was the wrong decision, it wasn’t gamer-first,’ and then pulling back and making a different decision.”

EA is currently facing a lawsuit in the over its Ultimate Team loot boxes. In November 2020, a class-action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Northern California, focusing on the alleged use of Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment, a feature that artificially adjusts the difficulty to encourage players to purchase loot boxes in order to advance.

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