Are video game loot boxes like the kind found in the wildly popular FIFA series, a form of gambling? If you’re a member of almost any European legislative body, your answer to this question is probably a firm “yes”. But if you’re Peter Moore, Former EA Sports President Peter Moore, you might just see them as a simple childhood joy like collecting baseball cards.
Moore recently expounded on the simple joys of purchasing in-game currency with real cash and then using that digital cash to purchase a loot box, without knowing what’s in the box in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. “The experience of opening something and not knowing what will be inside is appealing to many, hence the popularity of Ultimate Team unboxing videos,” he said, “People loved it. I think that sense of uncertainty and ‘What are you going to get?’ and then bang, Ronaldo or Messi would roll out and that’s a wonderful thing.”
Critics of video game loot boxes would counter that statement by pointing out that most loot boxes do not contain any player on par with Ronaldo or Messi (two of the greatest to ever play the game). Moore’s comparisons of loot boxes to baseball cards also fall flat because trading cards are not a piece of another game, that must be purchased as well.
“This is a personal view, but the concept of surprise and delight vs gambling… on a continuum, they’re a long way from each other. You buy or grind your way up to getting a gold pack, you open it up, and you’re either happy or you think it’s a crappy pack. I don’t see that as gambling, per se — but again, this is my personal view as an outsider right now,” Moore added.
Just because he’s not the CEO of EA Sports doesn’t mean he’s some kind of outside observer. Moore is almost certainly still invested in EA and has benefited personally from the loot gathered from loot boxes. But European lawmakers are unlikely to be swayed by Moore’s “outsider” views.