Fortnite, EA Bosses Appear At UK Government To Defend Loot Boxes And Microtransactions

EA executive says its loot boxes are "ethical," while Fortnite bosses discuss making the game generous as it relates to microtransactions.


Executives from Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, and mega-publisher Electronic Arts, appeared in a United Kingdom government committee meeting today where they got grilled by lawmakers over loot boxes and microtransactions in their games.

The game executives, which included EA vice president of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins and EA UK Country Manager Shaun Campbell, as well as Epic executives Matthew Weissinger (director of marketing) and Canon Pence (general counsel) spend more than two hours answering all manner of questions about their games and how they handle loot boxes and microtransactions.

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In one particularly interesting breakout, Hopkins says she sees loot boxes not as gambling, but instead as "surprise mechanics." This is similar to things like toys that come with surprises such as Kinder Eggs and Hatchimals. You can watch the breakout segment in the video embedded above.

She also described EA's loot boxes--which are most popular and prominent in EA's sports titles with the Ultimate Team mode--are "quite ethical." She added that EA believes loot boxes do not constitute a form of gambling, as gambling commissions around the world have already said. People enjoyed being surprised, and this is no different in video games with loot boxes, she said.

The executives from both EA and Epic also confirmed during the committee meeting that neither company works with psychologists or behavioural scientists to understand the mental state of the player.

Fortnite's executives added during that they were taken aback by Prince Harry's comments about Fortnite being addictive. They also discussed how they are not interested in maximizing profit in the short-term but instead they aim to offer microtransactions that are "generous" and "sustainable."

You can watch the entire broadcast here, and you really should to get a full and complete idea about the context surrounding their comments. It is a fascinating examination of loot boxes, microtransactions, and other topics that is well worth a watch for people interested in these subjects and hearing from two of the biggest companies in gaming.

Earlier this year, the UK government announced it would launch an investigation into things like loot boxes, as well as game addiction and more, and this hearing was one part of that. This was only an oral evidence session, so it remains to be seen if any legislative action will take place.

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