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EA Facing Class Action Lawsuit Over FIFA Ultimate Team 'Loot Boxes'

EA Facing Class Action Lawsuit Over FIFA Ultimate Team 'Loot Boxes'

Video game publisher Electronic Arts is facing a class action lawsuit in California over its Ultimate Team modes. It's been alleged that the publisher is breaching the state's gambling laws through the digital card packs available in the FIFA and Madden games.

For those who might not be aware, Ultimate Team players are able to build their dream teams, by spending either real-world or in-game currency on card packs, which then produce randomly generated players. VGC now reports that plaintiff Kevin Ramirez is demanding a jury trial and damages of $5 million on behalf of a proposed class of more than 100 others.

Ramirez alleges that EA "relies on creating addictive behaviors in consumers to generate huge revenues" and that EA's Ultimate Team Packs "are predatory and designed to entice gamers to gamble."

Fifa 20 / Credit: EA
Fifa 20 / Credit: EA
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"EA's Ultimate Team Packs are Loot Boxes," the complaint continues. "Buying the Packs are nothing more than a gambling bet. Purchased using real money, the Ultimate Team Packs are simply wagers on completely randomized chances within the game to win valuable professional players and other items for the EA gamer's virtual sports team."

Ramirez went on to claim that he'd been coaxed into spending money to purchase Ultimate Team packs, estimating that he's spent over $600 in FIFA and Madden games since 2011.

The state of California describes an illegal gambling device as "a machine, aperture, or device; something of value is given to play; and the player may receive something of value by element of chance."

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"None of these elements can be in dispute," The court filing reads. "A gamer uses his console, computer, smartphone or tablet with the EA sports franchise game on it (#1); the gamer pays real-world currency for the opportunity to open an Ultimate Team Pack (#2); and the Ultimate Team Pack is a randomized chance to win something valuable in-game."

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This isn't the first time legal action has been taken against EA's Ultimate Team. Earlier this year the publisher faced two separate lawsuits in France that alleged the mode is basically unregulated gambling.

Fifa 19 / Credit: EA
Fifa 19 / Credit: EA
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"The more you pay, the more you have the possibility of getting big players," Victor Zagury, one of the lawyers behind these suits said at the time.

"We believe that a gambling game has been integrated into this video game because buying packs is nothing more than a bet. It is the logic of a casino that has entered their homes. Today, an 11- or 12-year-old or a teenager can, without any restriction, play FUT and commit money because there is no parental control system in this mode. Belgium and the Netherlands have already taken up this issue."

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In 2018, loot boxes were banned in Belgium for the very same reasons that these various lawsuits are now calling out. The US and UK have yet to come to any kind of consensus on whether or not the practice can be classed as gambling, but various experts, researchers, and published papers have urged governing bodies to take action and better regulate microtransactions in games - especially those played by children.

Featured Image Credit: EA

Topics: EA

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Ewan Moore

Journalist at GAMINGbible who still quite hasn’t gotten out of my mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), I went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis.