A senior executive at Electronic Arts told the UK Parliament that the company prefers to call solitaire "surprise mechanics" and argued that their use in EA games is "quite ethical and fun [and] for people."
In a Wednesday Commissioner, Kerry Hopkins, Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs at EA, responded to a parliamentary member who had asked if the publisher had any "ethical qualities" about the coin boxes. Their use in 2017's Star Wars Battlefront 2 started a major controversy that examined several governments, including those in the United States and Europe. Loot boxes in the form of Ultimate Team packages are also an important source of revenue for EA's FIFA franchise.
Hopkins compared pocket boxes to other products: Kinder Eggs, a chocolate treat with a toy in the center and Hatchimals, a blind box-style toy hidden inside an egg. "People like surprises," she said. But the comparison with the Kinder Eggs was quite ironic as the chocolate eggs were banned in the US until recently. Over concerns, the prizes were a choking hazard.
The British Parliament is examining solitaire over concerns that they represent gambling opportunities and the potential harm that can cause children, referring to anecdotal evidence and research calling solitaire boxes addictive.
Loot boxes, micro-transactions and pay-to-win mechanisms have been subject to general control in the past year. A bill to regulate them dead in Hawaii's legislature, but a Republican senator recently introduced a bill with two-party support that would ban solder sites in games marketed to or played by children. Loot boxes have been compared to gambling, a comparison between Electronic Arts and the Disputes Software Association Association.
In 2017, New Zealand reached the same conclusion. However, countries like Belgium and the Netherlands in 2018 found that the loot boxes in play as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Dota 2 and Overwatch a form of gambling; Developers Blizzard and Valve changed their game to comply with regional rules. Other countries, such as South Korea, China and Japan, have also begun to regulate solder locks.
EA's statements may increase eyebrows, but they are surprising given the company's history of this issue. EA pushed hard on the Belgian Gaming Commission when it stated that loot boxes were unregulated games, but decided to continue selling FIFA Points, a micro-transaction in its FIFA football series, in that country.
The MPs in the committee have not announced any plans to regulate accidents at U.K. from now on.