On Thursday, consumer advocates asked US authorities to look into the usage of a digital “loot box” that “aggressively” encourages people to spend more money while playing a popular soccer game by Electronic Arts Inc (EA.O).
Fairplay, the Center for Digital Democracy, and 13 other organizations have asked the FTC to investigate EA’s “FIFA: Ultimate Team.”
Players create a soccer team using avatars of actual players and compete against other teams in the game. The groups said in a letter to the FTC that the game normally costs $50 to $100, but that the corporation would pressure users to purchase extra while they were playing.
“It entices gamers to buy packs in quest of unique players,” the Consumer Federation of America, the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, and others said in a letter.
The packs, also known as loot boxes, are digital content bundles that can be purchased with real money and provide the buyer a competitive advantage in a game. They may be purchased using digital money, which can make it difficult to determine how much is spent, according to the researchers.
“Unless a gamer spends thousands of dollars on points or plays for thousands of hours to acquire coins, the odds of opening a coveted card, such as a Player of the Year, are minuscule,” the organizations said in the letter.
The letter also made a connection between treasure boxes and gambling.
“Loot boxes are a doorway to problem gambling for certain young individuals who have already acquired problem gambling behaviours; for others, loot boxes are a gateway to problem gambling,” they wrote.
In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which prosecutes corporations that engage in deceptive practices, sponsored training on loot boxes. The organization went on to say that video game microtransactions had grown into a multibillion-dollar business in a “staff viewpoint” that followed.
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