Loot boxes and their place in games have been widely debated in recent years. EA in particular has taken the brunt of a lot of these criticisms, with Battlefront 2 receiving backlash for its extreme use of loot boxes. Another EA game to attract criticism and even some regulatory attention has been the FIFA series and its Ultimate Team mode. Some have likened loot boxes, including Ultimate Team, to gambling. But former EA Sports president Peter Moore doesn't think that's the case.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab), Moore has said he doesn't consider FIFA's Ultimate Team packs to be gambling. Moore instead compares them to 'collecting cigarette cards in the 1920s and '30s," as well as Lucky Bags—an old UK product that contained mystery sweets, games, and other activities. The distinction between gambling and loot boxes, Moore claims, is the fact you're never left empty-handed.
"You're always getting something," he says. "It's not like you opened it and there's no players in there. This is a personal view, but the concept of surprise and delight vs gambling... on a continuum, they're a long way from each other."
"You buy or grind your way up to getting a gold pack, you open it up, and you're either happy or you think it's a crappy pack. I don't see that as gambling, per se—but again, this is my personal view as an outsider right now."
Moore says that the sheer number of packs sold and money made from Ultimate Team is an indication that people want this style of loot box to remain and "the numbers speak for themselves."
Moore also briefly touched on the Battlefront 2 debacle, saying "I get the scrutiny, I understand outside of sports that loot boxes—again, another EA title in particular—get a lot of scrutiny and criticism. EA pulled back on that. One thing they're always good at is getting feedback and realising 'You know what, probably shouldn't have done that' or 'That was the wrong decision, it wasn't gamer-first,' and then pulling back and making a different decision."
The debate over loot boxes and how many degrees away they may or may not be from gambling continues. Countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have regulated against loot boxes, claiming they're in violation of gambling laws. EA has recently run into trouble with the latter country, accruing a €10 million fine (opens in new tab) for failing to change their system.