Australian Retailers: Stop Selling EA Games
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Recently Electronic Arts (EA) have released two games that include pay to win elements into their games. This pay to win content revolves around microtransactions in the form of loot boxes which provide random rewards. Over the past few weeks this pay to win loot boxes scheme has been looked down upon as a form of gambling and EA has plans to implement this into future games as found in UFC 3's Beta, another EA game soon to be released.
While there is a debate ongoing in multiple countries and nations whether loot boxes in these EA games are considered to be "gambling", retailers here in Australia are still selling Need for Speed Payback and Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA. Both of these titles being rated M while including gambling like elements and being marketed towards children below the legal age for gambling.
Both of these games have progression linked to loot boxes which reward players with in game advantages. These loot boxes can be purchased with in game currency that can be earned over time by playing the game or purchased using real world currency.
I ask of you to sign this petition to have these games stopped from being sold in Australian retail stores such as Target Australia, Kmart Australia, JB Hi-Fi, Big W and Electronic Boutique (EB) Games. I would also hope that this petition could also be used to show the Australian Classification Board that this needs to be regulated and included in future games. It should be said that Victoria's Gambling Regulator is investigating the issue.
If you still feel unsure whether loot boxes, especially those linked to game play and microtransactions, are not a problem? Then you should answer Jim Sterling's question quoted below and read the additional sections in this petition.
"Do you not feel loot box design is inherently predatory by nature? They exploit addiction and encourage or at least simulated the feel of gambling despite the lack of legal definition. Is this not a concern for the industry going forward?" - Jim Sterling
How does this Effect Players?
A 19-year-old who spent over $10,000 on in game purchases posted an open letter to EA stating "I am 19 and addicted to gambling." He stated that he started at the age of 13 and over three years spent $13,500.25 in games such as CSGO, Smite and The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth. The article is linked here.
Kotaku also discusses how loot boxes are designed to exploit players here. The part about how loot boxes are related to B. F. Skinner's experiments is definitely worth reading.
A YouTuber, going by the name Xfactor, tested Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA's loot boxes and found that spending the additional $89.99 gave Xfactor a much higher advantage. Polygon's article on this can be found here.
The Nosy Gamer has an excellent blog post explaining why players are not happy with microtransactions and loot boxes being inserted into full priced games here. it is also discusses how Overwatch, another loot box ridden game, targets children and adults.
If the above have not convinced you, listen to the State of Hawaii announcing action to address Electronic Arts and other companies predatory practices here.
What are Microtransactions?
Microtransactions is a business model where the player can purchase virtual goods through micropayments. Usually found in free-to-play games and the mobile market.
What are Micropayments?
Micropayments is a the transaction involving a sum of real money occurring online.
What are Loot Boxes?
A loot box is a virtual item that can be consumed in order to receive a randomised selection of other virtual items. These randomly selected virtual items can be in game customisation or game changing equipment.
These randomised virtual items are usually classified to specific rarities. A common virtual item being the most common while a Ultra Rare virtual item being more rare than a common. The higher the rarity may provide a better game play advantage (as found in Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA). These randomised virtual items can have different chances of being rewarded. These virtual item reward chances are not revealed in games with the exception in China.The People's Republic of China created a law to force publishers and game developers to reveal loot box odds. Some games, such as CSGO, Paladins and Rocket League, introduced keys which are virtual items that can be purchased through microtransactions. These keys are either required or guarantee a specific virtual item classification when opening loot boxes. Recently EA have introduced randomly selected virtual items which effect game play.
Why Australian Retailers Should Think Twice about Selling these Games and how they can Help
For this section my focus will be aimed at Target Australia and Kmart Australia at the start. Both of these companies pulled Grand Theft Auto V from shelves over a sexual violence controversy. Target Australia has to this day refused to sell certain games such as Call of Duty: WWII and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. But they still sell and advertise EA's gambling like, microtransaction loot boxes infested, pay-to-win games like Need for Speed Payback and Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA.
Over the course of this entire petition I have mentioned the following games below. Of these games I will mention the titles of the game, whether they have loot boxes included, their Australian rating and then whether the loot boxes provide game play advantages.
Game - Loot Boxes (Y/N) - Rating - Loot Box Rewards Game Play Advantage (Y/N)
- UFC 3 Beta - Yes - Unknown Rating - Yes
- Need for Speed Payback - Yes - M - Yes
- Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA - Yes - M - Yes
- Counter Strike Global Offensive (CSGO) - Yes - MA 15+ - No
- Smite - Yes - M - No
- The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth -Unknown for All
- Overwatch - Yes - M - No
- Paladins - Yes - M - Yes
- Rocket League - Yes - G - No
- Grand Theft Auto V - No - R 18+ - No
- Call of Duty WWII - Yes - R 18+ - No
- Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus - No - R 18+ - No
Of these games, all of them can be (or use to be) purchasable at Target Australia, Kmart Australia, Big W, JB Hi-Fi and EB Games collectively with the exception of UFC 3 still in Beta, CSGO only available on Valve's Steam, Smite, The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth and Paladins being in Early Access.
But notice which three games with loot boxes provide in game advantages through microtransaction loot boxes. UFC 3 Beta, Need for Speed Payback and Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA.
Come on retailers, I understand this is stock that counts towards your profits. But you are selling off gambling machines. Just read the "How does this Effect Players?" section of this petition. It's very self explanatory.
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