Gaming giant, EA Sports, is facing yet another lawsuit over it’s use of loot boxes this year. Gaming and eSports law blog ‘The Patch Notes’, reported last week on a class action lawsuit filed against EA in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The lawsuit was tucked away in the Business in Vancouver website, under the aptly named feature “Who’s Getting Sued”.
EA Lawsuit Controversy…Again
The lawsuit, filed on September 30, alleges the publisher’s use of loot boxes violates, among other protection statutes, both Canada’s Criminal Code and the BC Consumer Protection Act. The suit claims that by accepting real money for a chance at a random item EA is operating “an unlicensed, illegal gaming system.” Canada runs a pretty tight ship on gambling, and the plaintiff argues EA is violating the same regulations placed on other games of chance.
The suit also claims EA is actively violating consumer protection laws in Canada. Game companies have not always had to disclose the odds of receiving items from loot boxes. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo only agreed to have developers do so last year. The plaintiff also states the lack of transparency, coupled with the fact some EA games put progression items in loot boxes, breaches the BC Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit is class action, on behalf of anyone in Canada who has purchased loot boxes since 2008. It’s important to note, despite suggesting EA has violated criminal codes, the lawsuit is not a criminal lawsuit. The games affected by the suit include sports games spanning all the back to FIFA 09. It also includes other EA properties, like Apex Legends, the Battlefield series, and Need for Speed: Payback. It’s a long list of games that highlights the company’s increased reliance on loot boxes as a form of income.
Pressure Mounts on EA
Canada is now the third country in which EA has been accused in court of predatory loot box practices. The first set of lawsuits came from France in early 2020. In August, we reported on a California law firm who brought a similar lawsuit against EA for their use of loot boxes in FIFA Ultimate Team. All these former suits focus on EA’s Ultimate Team feature. This latest class action suit is more broad, targeting EA’s overall practice of utilizing loot boxes. Either way, EA is facing growing legal attention for their implementation of random elements in games.
The September 30 filing says that EA has three weeks to respond to the case. As of this writing, 26 days after the filing, it does not seem that EA has responded to the civil claim. However, the claim notes residents of the United States must respond within 35 days, so EA may still be deciding what to do next. You can find the full civil claim here.
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