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News video games 01 October 2020, 17:00

author: Bart Swiatek

EA Taking Flak for Lootbox Ad Aimed at Kids [Updated]

Electronic Arts has placed an advertisement of FIFA 21 Ultimate Team lootboxes in a toy catalogue available in Smyths Toys chain store in UK.

Update:

Electronic Arts has decided to abandon the controversial FIFA 21 Ultimate Team ad. In a statement sent to the British Eurogamer's editorial team, the company admitted the error, stating that this type of content should never have appeared in a children's catalogue. EA also announced that it would look closely at its marketing activities, especially in terms of advertising aimed at the youngest players.

Original message:

EA raises controversy again.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. EA advertised FIFA 21 Ultimate Team mode in a toy catalogue;
  2. Ultimate Team is based on packs with random cards, which we buy with real money;
  3. Some experts and legislators believe that similar solutions - so-called lootboxes - are very similar to gambling and can be harmful, especially to children.

An ad of FIFA 21 appeared in the catalogue of UK branch of Smyths Toys, focused on Ultimate Team mode. This is the part of the game that is based on random card packs purchased for FIFA Points, which we can only get by spending real money (in other words, the packs are lootboxes). The advertisement mentions four steps on which the Ultimate Team mode is based - the second step being "use FIFA Points to open packs".

The advertisment is criticised by internet users. Several of them have published posts on Twitter condemning similar practices. Interestingly, as another user's tweet points out, this type of advertising is nothing new - similar marketing was used for the previous installments as well.

It is worth recalling that in the past, lootboxes have been heavily criticized - according to some people, such solutions resemble gambling, and using them can be similarly addictive. A few years ago, Electronic Arts caused a huge scandal when it decided to base its progression system in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 shooter on such mechanics. As a result of the discussion provoked by that move, several countries started to analyze the problem, and even considered regulations limiting the use of lootboxes (e.g. making it impossible to sell games containing them to children). Since then, the case has been somewhat hushed up, but its echoes are still audible today - for example, a trial is currently underway in a California court that may decide whether the FIFA Ultimate Team mode violates state gambling law.

  1. FIFA 21 - official website
FIFA 21

FIFA 21

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