The fire started by EA has become a roaring inferno, and I’m just sitting back and enjoying the carnage. That’s not to say I’m not worried about the government getting involved with something they know nothing about. With the government; give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. In fact, we should be worried that governments are having to step in into a system that should be self regulated. Unfortunately the ESRB has not been doing its job as of late.
Anyway, EA has stepped over the line this year (more like catapulted over the line), and after global backlash and mainstream media scrutiny, governments have now gotten involved. Belgium’s Gaming Commission launched an investigation into loot boxes. In a mistranslation, we were led to believe that they had identified loot boxes as gambling, but earlier this week it was revealed that they could not identify loot boxes as gambling as loot boxes could not be “cashed out.” They did, however, insist that if predatory systems like EA’s continued, further regulation will be called upon.
This information, though not exactly what we were hoping for, is still encouraging. The situation had to have EA reeling. EA’s abuse of microtransactions is not only hurting the quality of the industry, but could be used as a gateway for younger audiences to be introduced to gambling. Young people, especially children, are more susceptible to this tactic, which in turn can make it easier for them to fall into a gambling addiction. The State of Hawaii has found issue with this thought, calling Battlefront II an “online casino.” I’m sure you’ve already seen it, but here’s the full video released by State Representative Chris Lee on the Star Wars game.
As you can see, Hawaii is not a fan of EA’s “predatory system.” Another entity not happy with EA’s abuse of microtransactions is Disney, who allegedly contacted EA and basically told them to cut the crap. This could have occurred after several media outlets tried to connect Disney to EA’s gambling like system, making Disney seem like an enabler in what could essentially be a “gate-way drug” for gambling in children. This debacle could cost EA the Star Wars licence.
There have been other consequences to EA’s greed. The company’s stock dropped, Battlefront II has the lowest user score in history, and it’s sales are at an all time low. Even on Black Friday as I was doing my shopping I noticed that while games like Call of Duty: WWII and Assassin’s Creed: Origins were sold out at all the stores I went to, Battlefront II was completely stocked and untouched.
The fall of Battlefront II could be the downfall of microtransactions, but seeing as governments are getting involved, we could see the death of loot boxes sooner rather than later. This is still frighting, as when governments start regulating everything usually goes south. Had the ESRB done it’s job this wouldn’t be an issue, but since they did not, the government has to step in. This poses a problem as if the government notices the ESRB not doing it’s job, the government will be more likely to intervene or interfere in the future, making it more likely for politicians to regulate or ban certain games at their own desecration (especially in the wake of all the shootings taking place in this country).
In the end of the day EA f***** us over coming and going. Now with governments getting involved against loot boxes, gamers could very well be caught in the crossfire. All I can say is push on and keep your head high. If the gaming community continues to band together like we did against EA, we can bring about real change to the industry we so love and hold dear. As always, game on and I hope you have an incredible day.