Democratic Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee yesterday announced the US State of Hawaii’s intention to take ‘action to address predatory practices at Electronic Arts and other companies’ in reference to the ongoing loot box controversy within such games as Star Wars Battlefront 2 and, to a lesser extent, Overwatch.
These in-game features or practices have been accused of being a form of gambling; something which both EA and Blizzard have denied.
“This game [Star Wars Battlefront 2] is a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money,” said Lee.
“It’s a trap; and this is something that we need to address to ensure that, particularly, kids who are underage, who are not psychologically and emotionally mature enough to be able to gamble, which is why gambling is prohibited under 21, are protected from being trapped into these cycles which have compelled many folks to spend thousands of dollars in gaming fees online.”
Lee continued, “We’re looking at legislation this coming year which could prohibit access- or prohibit the sale of these games to folks who are underage in order to protect families, as well as prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms in those games.”
The representative said that Hawaii has been talking to other states, too, meaning this could soon be more of a widespread issue.
Lee’s video for this announcement came on the same day that Belgium’s Gambling Commission concluded its investigation into whether loot boxes constituted gambling; with the Commission finding that yes, they do. The organisation said, “We will certainly try to ban it."
Following the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta, EA was already firefighting following suspicions and criticisms raised about the seemingly pay-to-win game model. On its website EA heavily implied that this would not be the case in the game’s full release.
On Monday, November 13th, EA published a comment on Battlefront’s Reddit page outlining how loot boxes would be implemented in the game and the pay structure of such. The comment became the most downvoted comment in Reddit’s history. On the same day EA revealed in an official blog post that the cost in in-game credits of the playable top ‘hero’ characters was to be reduced by 75 per cent.
On launch day, Friday, November 17th. Star Wars Battlefront 2 developer DICE's GM, Oskar Gabrielson, announced on EA’s official site that, “We’re turning off all in-game purchases.” But only temporarily, as, “The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game.”
On Saturday, November 18th, it was reported that Disney’s LucasFilm, the company behind the Star Wars saga, supports “EA's decision to temporarily remove in-game payments to address fan concerns.”