EA executive describes loot boxes as “surprise mechanics”

Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts’ VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins has described loot boxes as a “surprise mechanic” which is “quite ethical”.

Hopkins was giving evidence to the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is investigating loot boxes in games. In response to a comment from SNP

MP Brendan O’Hara, in which he said that there is evidence of a “close link” between loot boxes and gambling, especially in adolescents, Hopkins said: “We don’t call them loot boxes,” before saying that the company refers to them as: “Surprise mechanics.”

She then explained that EA sees loot boxes as akin to blind-packaged toys: “If you go to a store that sells lots of toys, and you do a search for surprise toys, what you’ll find is that this is something people enjoy. They enjoy surprises. And so, it’s something that’s been part of toys for years, whether it’s Kinder Eggs, or Hatchimals, or LOL Surprise. We do think the way that we have implemented these kinds of mechanics in FIFA— [which] of course is our big one, our FIFA Ultimate Team and our packs — is actually quite ethical and quite fun. Enjoyable to people.”

She added that EA doesn’t consider loot boxes to be a form of gambling, adding: “We also disagree that there’s evidence that shows it leads to gambling.” When the committee brought up the subject of countries like the Netherlands and Belgium moving to ban loot boxes from games with a young audience, she said those decisions related to the countries’ local laws, and that EA disagreed with them, although it complied with those laws and removed loot boxes in those territories.

Meanwhile, Electronic Arts has installed Samantha Ebelthite, previously head of sales, as its new UK and Ireland country manager, taking over from Shaun Campbell who will move to an unspecified role at EA’s European HQ in Geneva. For more EA-related news, visit the company’s website.