EA Takes Heat for Advertising FIFA Loot Boxes in Kids’ Catalog
Some gamers and parents were distressed to find an EA advertisement for FIFA loot boxes in a UK toy catalog. The advert was placed in an in-store catalog for Smyths Toys and encouraged players to “Use FIFA points to open [Player] Packs” in FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), a popular in-game mode.
FUT allows players to build their own teams rather than relying on preexisting “real-life” squads. Players collect athletes in the form of trading cards, which they can use in online or offline matches. These trading cards can also be bought and sold in an online marketplace.
Players can acquire random cards by spending a set amount of time playing matches or they can use real money to purchase Player Packs. The packs give gamers additional chances to acquire premium players.
Critics have argued that the Player Packs, a type of ‘loot box,” constitute gambling. Children therefore should not have easy access to the packs because they are predatory monetization schemes and can fuel gambling addiction. It is not uncommon to hear news stories of children spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on in-game loot boxes.
EA apologized for the advertisement in a statement to GameIndustry.biz.
“We take very seriously the responsibilities we have when marketing EA games and experiences in channels seen by children,” a spokesperson said. “In spite of this, we’re aware that advertising for FIFA Points has appeared in environments it shouldn’t have. We have been working diligently with Smyths to ensure this advertisement is not distributed in any remaining copies of their 2020 catalog. We have also undertaken an immediate review of all future media placements and are working to ensure each of our marketing efforts better reflects the responsibility we take for the experience of our younger players.”
Governments around the world have regulated, investigated, and even banned loot boxes. Industry regulators now nearly universally require game-makers to disclose the odds of obtaining desired items in a loot box. The UK and California are investigating whether loot boxes should be classified as gambling, while the Netherlands and Belgium have banned loot boxes entirely.
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