New Lawsuit Against EA Claims That FIFA Ultimate Team Is Gambling
EA Sports, the company behind hit games like FIFA, Madden NFL 20 and NBA Live 19 has been hit with a lawsuit filed in California by Kevin Ramirez. The lawsuit is regarding the use of EA’s “Ultimate Team” loot boxes which are used in the company’s blockbuster Madden and FIFA franchises. Ramirez is pursuing damages of $5 million as well as a jury trial. Loot boxes might be all the rage these days across the gaming space, but the practice continues to be a controversial subject in some quarters. Now, a class-action lawsuit filed in California claims that the FIFA series’ Ultimate Team mode is a form of gambling.
The case was brought by Ramirez on behalf of a proposed class of more than 100 others, on August 13 in the Northern District of California. The same law firm also filled a class action against Apple in June for its use of loot boxes in California.
It alleges that EA “relies on creating addictive behaviours in consumers to generate huge revenues” and that EA’s Ultimate Team Packs “are predatory and designed to entice gamers to gamble.”
The lawsuit states that loot boxes are clearly in violation of California law. Gamers use their gaming device to play their copy of an EA sports game, where they are induced to pay real money to open Ultimate Team Packs. The loot boxes used in these games perfectly fit the definition of an illegal gambling device in California, as their contents are subject to randomness.
The suit seeks damages of $5 million, and includes a proposed class of more than 100. Plaintiff Kevin Ramirez says that he’s spent more than $600 on FIFA and Madden’s Ultimate Team modes since 2011. In the past, EA has responded to such accusations by claiming that players are guaranteed to receive at least some item from a loot box, so they do not constitute gambling. (This explanation did not hold water for French regulators, though they did conclude that loot boxes do not meet the standard for gambling under their country’s laws.) California law defines 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.”
There is currently no legal consensus in the US on whether loot boxes constitute gambling.
Loot boxes have faced scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers for years now, with the mechanic being banned in Belgium in 2018 as a form of gambling. New research released in Australia just last week concluded that players who buy loot boxes are more likely to suffer from a compulsion to gamble.
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo announced last year that they were planning to introduce new policies that require games made for their consoles to disclose loot box odds beginning in 2020.