FIFA 2021: Loot boxes considered Gambling or Not?
For the past couple of years, there has been a huge controversy surrounding so-called loot boxes and surprise mechanics within the gaming community. Electronic Arts, the development company behind many famous triple-A game titles has become notorious for putting loot boxes in almost all of their games, and gamers around the world now rant about EA’s greed and them putting gambling elements in their games.
FIFA 21 is at the center of the controversy now. Not exactly because of the gambling-like mechanics in the game but rather because that is a game advertised for kids who might not really understand what that is and get addicted to gambling from an early age. So, is FIFA gambling or not? Let us find out.
In-game purchases is not a new thing and though most gamers hate those, sometimes you can understand why the developers put those in their games. It is common for free mobile games to have those because the developers need some money to keep on working on the game and maintain its functioning over the years. That is totally normal for small mobile games to offer people some items, buffs, bonuses, and rewards for real money, and players often buy those to gain some advantages over other players.
It is also fully justified to have in-game purchases in online casinos. There, you know what you are signing up for – a game where you deposit real money to get a chance to win more money.
Losing money is also an option here, and everybody knows that. Adult players would often try casino gambling with minimum deposit, and you can find a decent 5 dollar deposit casino online by looking at the reviews and finding the highest-rated $5 casinos. There, you would at least know what you are paying for, and as an adult person, you would also understand that you can lose you money. With FIFA, things have a bit darker turn, so let’s take a look.
FIFA and Loot boxes
FIFA is a football game where you can manage and play almost any existing team both in a career mode where you clash against the AI-controlled opponents and in the online tournaments against other players. Sounds fun until the whale with tons of virtual currency called FIFA points rolls in. The FIFA points real cost money, and they allow you to buy loot boxes that give you random players that are more powerful than standard players the game gives you.
It wouldn’t be much of a problem if people could just buy the player they want. Instead, you can buy and open packs with different football players. If you are lucky, you’ll get yourself a top-tier platinum player that’s going to wreck the opponent teams just because he is much faster. Unfortunately, you do not know which player you are going to get – you may pay money and get the player you already have, which is a waste of your money. That effectively makes buying those points and spending them on loot boxes that give you random players gambling.
Advertisement and Legal Ramifications
A huge controversy emerged when EA advertised their FIFA ultimate team, which you can upgrade using the loot boxes, in a kid’s magazine about games. Basically, what EA does is advertising gambling mechanics to children who might not even be aware of what they are doing. There have even reports of children emptying their parents’ bank accounts on FIFA loot boxes.
Parents would often tie their cards to the gaming consoles they use, and some of them would not use any parental control systems, so their kids would just open the game, see the ad for the ultimate team loot boxes, and spend real money on those, sometimes without even understanding what they did. There have been cases of kids spending thousands of dollars without even getting that player card they wanted. Is that a gambling? Well, if not, it is frighteningly close to it.
The UK government has been gathering evidence against gambling mechanics in games for several years now in an attempt to ban such casino features from games kids can access. As of today, it did not lead to anything, and companies like EA can still put surprise mechanics in their games, which is just a fancy term for gambling.
Don’t get it wrong, there’s nothing wrong about gambling in of itself. If adult people want to spend their money in an online casino, there’s no problem here – they are adults who can and should make their own decisions. But when it comes to the games that can be accessed by 3-year old players, that is where the real problem is. Children should not be allowed to access gambling that easily, because what EA offers is basically well-masqueraded gambling. That is why the government of the UK is working towards banning such thing as loot boxes from video games.
So, are loot boxes in FIFA and other games gambling? The simple answer is that they are gambling, and the companies developing these games should certainly inform the players about it. Of course, there’s a slight difference between trying to gather a perfect team in a football game and playing roulette, but these two activities get really similar when you thing about people losing money trying to get some random rewards.
The other problem is that casino gambling is only available to adults and FIFA games is available to 3-year old. The adults can make financial decisions, and children, well, not so much. That is why gambling in games like FIFA 21 is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.