EA Is Being Sued In Canada Over Loot Boxes

The class action lawsuit over loot boxes in EA's sports games is similar to an ongoing suit in California.

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A class action lawsuit has been brought against EA Games in Canada, with the plaintiffs essentially arguing that the games giant is profiting off an illegal gambling business by selling randomized loot boxes for cash. It's remarkably similar to a suit filed against EA in California this August, which alleged that FIFA's Ultimate Team mode is essentially gambling. Though you always get something from a loot box in this game, you don't know what it will be.

The Canadian suit was first spotted in a Vancouver "who's getting sued" column by The Patch Notes, a game industry-focused law blog. The Patch Notes has found and uploaded the full Notice of Civil Claim, which contains the full details on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is being brought against EA by two individuals who describe themselves as customers of EA. One is described to have purchased loot boxes for EA's Madden NFL games, while the other bought loot boxes for various NHL games. As a class action lawsuit, however, the action is being brought against EA on behalf of everyone who purchased loot boxes in any of EA's games since 2008--which may mean a hefty payout on EA's part if the suit is successful.

Like other class actions that have been brought around loot boxes, the lawsuit cites gambling-relevant sections of Canada's Criminal code to allege that loot boxes should also be considered a type of gambling. It also cites other international precedents, such as Japanese and Korean enforcement of loot box regulation, the Netherlands and Belgium's recent laws against loot boxes, and the loot box inquiries in progress in the UK and US. Their popularity exploded following Overwatch's release in 2016. In some cases, such as with Star Wars Battlefront II, public opinion soured on games enough for the loot boxes or progression systems to be modified. It may have also hurt initial sales of the game.

Note that, as a class action lawsuit, this suit is a civil suit and thus has no bearing on government regulation--though a successful result for the plaintiffs may put pressure on the government to introduce new legislation.

Canada currently has no laws around loot boxes, and has not yet taken steps to look into the issue. Other countries around the world have weighed in on the link between loot boxes and gambling, with countries including the Netherlands and Belgium taking steps to regulate loot boxes and others, such as New Zealand and France concluding that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.

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sippio

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Edited By sippio

What EA has done to the sports game is shady & grimy if not criminal..

*Yeah Madden & NHL look sweet now but Quality of Life & gameplay features are so

stale of lesser then compared to back n the day..

*NHL 2004 & Madden 2005= aka The Golden Era

Had so many awesome things that are still missing or just returned.

~Like player bios that show what college and when they we're drafted & career stats..

~Individual ProBowl helmets was something only recently brought back.

~My biggest think with NHL is how weird they made the skill stick..

*I dare anyone to try NHL 14(Brodeur on Cover) and see how smooth that stick was..

The game just felt better..

Which makes no sense from the POV that they wanna scam gamers outta money on Micro Card packs..

Well that doesn't work as well if the gameplay is boring..

*All the different HUT/MUT modes feels like the whole game is a tutorial.

I miss Franchise in both games...

The absolute greatest was Online franchise.. You had 24 hours to play youre game or that sht was sim's lol... IIRC the last year NHL did this was 2014. and i don't even remember in Madden..

*****Who are these parasite,selfish Whales who ruin sports gaming for everyone??

Yeah EA is vile & evil but That gmaer is still spending a 100 or $1000 on these cards..

WHY!!! They don't even carry over...

So just os we are all crystal clear on this.

Gamers/Whales spend ALOT of real Money on Card packs knowing that in less then 1 year they will be irrelevant!

Well there's our answer to why EA makes a new game every year instead of a patch or DLC..

If players carried their cards over they wouldn't spend as much the next year...

*The NFL is also to blame with Exclusivity..

Go Canada...

I miss Madden & NHL.

i used ot buy both every year.

Esp Madden.. Around 2013 it got really bad..

I enjoyed NHL 19 but NHL20 bored me..

Haven't tried NHL21 yet but i assume it's stale....

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Tony_Miami

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Edited By Tony_Miami

Can we sue them for only making bad NHL games while we're at it.

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sippio

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@tony_miami: Is NHL 21 in any way whatsoever worth getting?

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Tony_Miami

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@sippio: I wouldn't. I haven't played a good hockey game since the NHL 2k series. If you really insist on playing hockey games though, I would just get Gamepass and play last years version until this years is free on it as well. That is dependent on if you play on Xbox or PC of course though.

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Soulcrusher777

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Good! Lol.

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nintendians

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well it's a optional thing, if gamers trying to buy and get a better item than the original, then they have a problem trying to obtain it.

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willow69

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Edited By willow69

I stopped buying and supporting any games that went the loot box route. I also avoid most games that survive by adding more DLC. I grew up knowing that when I bought a game I got the whole game and if the gaming company had an update to the game they let you download it for free. Those were the good old days.

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sippio

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@willow69: DLC is only good/great when you are late to the party.

I played Borderlands 2 late and got all the DLC.

**I never understood playing a game @ launch & putting in say 30-100 hours and putting it down.

Then a DLC comes out & what? you're expeted to load it back up for >>>???? lol

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Canduil

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Edited By Canduil

Honestly reading about this class action lawsuit and looking through the titles list for approved games on the class action i am honestly quite happy, Mass Effect 3 being the case. I was 16 when it was released and i played so much online, most of the money i got was spent on loot boxes at the time so looking at this and finding out I can be considered a plaintiff is a good thing in my book.

For everyone that says "plenty of companies do it, why go after EA?" the answer is quite simple, EA set the trend back in the late 00s with FIFA, Madden, NHL, NBA, and NBL for lootboxes and have not felt sorry for it since, and in there words "We need to do this to keep afloat" paraphrased mind you but its been said.

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lion2447

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Edited By lion2447

Along with this, all game companies should be sued for using the phrase "but it's optional."

Drives me nuts when I hear this.

They can try and convince gamers about loot boxes being optional, but it's clear that many games were built with the loot boxes being a core mechanic. They are also very carefully marketed to hook as many people as possible, including using psychological techniques to help sell more loot boxes.

Imagine if you went to the store and everything was in boxes with a question marks on them. The boxes only gives you a "chance" you will get what you want and there are no refunds. I wonder how many people would actually buy any of the boxes.

Based on the odds of all of these loot mechanics, you will always end up paying more then what the digital content is worth (value of digital goods being a whole other discussion.)

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Barighm

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Yay, but EA is hardly the only company doing this so I wonder why they're the ones getting sued.

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SystemOverload

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Edited By SystemOverload

Why doesn’t Blizzard just allow you to buy what you want and make loot boxes a free reward for leveling up.

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Barighm

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Edited By Barighm

@systemoverload: Sarcasm?

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Alphazonex

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Its so clear that Loot Boxes and Gambling are virtually the same thing.

Its like trying to say Apple isn't a fruit just because it isn't the exact same thing as an Orange. An apple is a fruit. Loot boxes is still gambling.

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esqueejy

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Go Canada. One step ahead of us again....

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dragonsama

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Hope they win and it puts an end to this garbage once and for all.

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naryanrobinson

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It won't do much, but you should always fight this kind of thing where you can.

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BDRTFM

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Edited By BDRTFM

Gambling is highly regulated in Canada, with most of it being owned by Provincial and Federal government and all of the profits going to government and charities with the exception of some casinos, those run by indigenous peoples who are allowed to take a small % of the profits. I find it odd that this hasn't come up sooner and that the Canadian government still hasn't addressed it. You can't even sell Nevada tickets or run BINGO games without a license and profits going to charity. The government needs to get off its ass and address this.

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Heqteur

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what's sad is that no matter what'S the outcome, it will have very little "IRL effect". I mean, EA will be EA and they will keep having shaddy practices. Even if loot boxes are banned, they are either gonna find a way to work around the law or they are just gonna find some other way to screw their customers.

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Sorugue

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While I can't stand loot boxes and see them for the money making scams that they are, I also recognize that this will not go over in court. These are grown men and women (or kids who stole moms CC) who made a choice. While some loot boxes are more scummy than others, no one makes you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on them. I for one spent what amounts to several hundred over the years on Overwatch loot boxes for cosmetic items (which have no effect on gameplay) and in the long run it certainly was not worth it, but I own that choice because no one but me made me do it. Its like that lawsuit where the guy became overweight from eating Mcdonalds everyday and wanted to sue them for not offering healthy alternatives. No one made him do it and he could have spent that money on actual healthy food elsewhere (ridiculously I believe he won, I forget).

For the record I am vehemently against all loot box and on disc DLC practices and if I find them to be particularly predatory I won't purchase the game. Geshin Impact being the newest addition to the long line of these, point being it is easy to sue in these situations, because then you can avoid looking back at your OWN actions. Want to truly combat Loot boxes? Don't support the games that incorporate them, for it is us the consumers who supported it with our wallets and got us to this point.

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MigGui

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@Sorugue: how does saying “you have a choice” negate the claim that it is gambling? You have no choice when you gamble?

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CyberEarth

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@Sorugue: fwiw, McDonald's ended up settling with that guy for pennies on the dollar, with the end result being that calorie counts and ingredient lists had to be displayed to consumers. Plus some minor political nonsense like New York trying to ban sodas.

So in the end, if this ends up similarly, EA and other companies will end up being forced to publish odds so consumers can be informed.

Also, at least in the US, gambling is defined legally as being able to win a thing of value. Since 99.99% of EULAs now state that digital goods are not owned by yhe consumer, nothing has value, and ownership can not be transferred, the argument will become that a purchaser is unable to win anything of value - thus it doesn't meet the legal definition of gambling. Other country's laws and definitions will vary, of course.

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Barighm

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@Sorugue: The kids taking mom's "cc" as you put it is the sticking point that fuels all of this. The argument has always been games are for kids or some rot, so loot boxes teaches them to gamble. All your other points are kind of irrelevant. It's that first one that drives all of this.

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esqueejy

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Edited By esqueejy

@Sorugue: The points are many, but it comes down to it being done in a deceptive manner that tries to hide what it really is (i.e., gambling) and the fact that most first world countries have determined that they don't want people under a certain age to have that "choice" to gamble anyway....setting aside that people aren't really making a "choice" to gamble when the systems involved and the marketing of them are all designed to deceive them into not believing it is gambling in the first place. It also has well documented and researched, proven addictive consequences that ruin lives because the psychology of it takes away "choice", and developers like EA are actively preying on that psychology, targeting children and training them into it so that they spend their lives subject to that psychology. These kinds of deceptive, manipulative business practices are damaging to both the markets and society as a whole and should be regulated thoroughly, to ban the worst of them outright and limit them appropriately.

So no, take the libertarian, individual responsibility daydreams and 'free market" nonsense and flush it down the nearest toilet. And just for good measure: Ayn Rand was a puerile ideological nincompoop of the highest order.

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itchyflop

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Edited By itchyflop

though i recognise the profit yielding scheme and its worth to EA as a business.

It felt shady and an obvious choice of wrong doing from EA this was inevitable.

Its never good to see a company blatantly scamming their customers, sadly there will be another way they will try and will keep doing so, thats business.

I will say they have pushed out a decent star wars fighter of late and BF2 now its fixed is gorgeous to play and look at.

Hopefully EA will listen and continue to be the company they were so long ago.....

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uninspiredcup

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This title made me very happy, unfortunately it won't amount to anything, never does.

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Faellin

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Good. Loot boxes are cancer and deserve to be killed off.

Any kind of push against them is welcome news to me.

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