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Here are six things we learnt from EA and Epic Games' time at the DCMS select committee

Here are six things we learnt from EA and Epic Games' time at the DCMS select committee

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's select committee has been looking into the possibility of technology having a negative influence on its users.

The investigation was announced in December 2018 and is being chaired by Damian Collins (pictured) with the latest session taking place just yesterday, in which FIFA giant Electronic Arts and Fortnite firm Epic Games were grilled by members of the British Government.

"The inquiry will examine the development of immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, and the potential impact these could have in the worlds of sport, entertainment and news," DCMS said in describing the scope of the investigation.

"The inquiry will also look at how the addictive nature of some technologies can affect users’ engagement with gaming and social media, particularly amongst younger people."

The next hearing is on June 26th, with King, the British Esports Association and the Video Standards Council as well as trade bodies UKIE and TIGA in the hot seats. 

Here are six things we learnt watching EA and Epic's time in the spotlight.


Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Epic really doesn't want us knowing how much money Fortnite is making

    Epic really doesn't want us knowing how much money Fortnite is making  logo

    Fortnite maker Epic Games isn't being very forthcoming with data about the battle royale title's audience.

    Speaking to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, marketing boss Matthew Weissinger was unwilling to disclose how much money its users were spending each month within the game, saying: "Unfortunately, as a private company, we consider that competitive information that in general we have not shared and do not feel comfortable sharing."

    The firm was also unwilling to share what portion of the 250m Fortnite accounts were dormant, again saying that it wasn't willing to disclose that information publicly.


  • 2 On average, people play FIFA 50 times a year

    On average, people play FIFA 50 times a year  logo

    EA's football smash hit FIFA is played 50 times in a year on average.

    That's according to the publishing giant's VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins, who told the DCMS select committee that it doesn't record user play time, rather examining at a different metric altogether.

    "We look at something called session days. To be clear, the data we are able to gather through our game when people are playing shows that they have connected to the game," said Hopkins.

    "We can collect things like number of matches played, but we don’t actually collect data that shows that there has been ongoing input. For instance, I would know that you came into the game today and played four matches, but I not whether you left the game open on your system or how long you were actually playing for. What we can tell you is that the average number of session days for a user of our FIFA game is about 50. That means that they have played 50 times over the year."


  • 3 EA doesn't want to call loot boxes loot boxes

    EA doesn't want to call loot boxes loot boxes  logo

    Publishing giant EA doesn't think it has loot boxes in its games, instead calling them by a different name.

    VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins told the DCMS select committee that what most people call 'loot boxes' are actually, er, 'surprise mechanics'. Furthermore, the legal expert says that the, er, 'surprise mechanics' implemented in its games are ethical.

    "That is what we look at as surprise mechanics. It is important to look at this," Hopkins said.

    "If you go to—I don’t know what your version of Target is—a store that sells a lot of toys and you do a search for surprise toys, you will find that this is something people enjoy. They enjoy surprises. It is something that has been part of toys for years, whether it is Kinder eggs or Hatchimals or LOL Surprise!. We think the way we have implemented those kinds of mechanics—and FIFA, of course, is our big one, our FIFA Ultimate Team and our packs—is quite ethical and quite fun; it is enjoyable to people. We agree with the UK Gambling Commission, the Australian gambling commission and many other gambling commissions that they are not gambling, and we also disagree that there is evidence that shows it leads to gambling. Instead, we think it is like many other products that people enjoy in a very healthy way. They like the element of surprise."

    She continued: "What I said is that I think the way we have implemented our FIFA Ultimate Team packs is ethical."


  • 4 EA say it has a duty of care to its users - but it doesn't want to be legally held to that

    EA say it has a duty of care to its users - but it doesn't want to be legally held to that  logo

    Publisher EA believes it has a duty to protect its audience, but it doesn't want to discuss whether it should be legally required to do so.

    VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins was asked about the online harms white paper that is being drafted at the moment, saying that while it does think it should safeguard its users, it isn't sure about a legal obligation.

    "I do think we have a duty to our game players, and we take that responsibility very seriously, but legally, I do not feel like this is the place to discuss whether there is a legal requirement," she said.

    "That is why we are participating in the consultation."

    She continued: "I do think we have a duty to our game players, and we take that responsibility very seriously, but legally, I do not feel like this is the place to discuss whether there is a legal requirement. That is why we are participating in the consultation."


  • 5 Epic once again refutes Fortnite crunch allegations

    Epic once again refutes Fortnite crunch allegations  logo

    Earlier this year, Business Insider ran a story alleging of overwork at Epic Games - something the studio has refuted in the past. Marketing boss Matthew Weissinger has once again denied the expectation of overwork at the Fortnite studio, saying that a lot of people weer working hard to make the game the best it could be.

    "I am not aware of anybody who has been forced to work," Weissinger said.

    "I do know that Fortnite became this global phenomenon at what was a relatively small company at the time, and therefore many people like myself recognised just what a tremendous kind of once-in-a-generation experience this was, and wanted to see it fulfil the ultimate level of success as much as it could. So people like myself and Canon worked really hard to make sure that the game met its full potential."

    Epic's general counsel Canon Pence added: "This is not some sweatshop where managers are standing behind people with weapons, forcing people to work—absolutely not. As Matt said, it took everyone by surprise and obviously there is an enormous amount of hard work associated with that, and everybody did their part. We recognise that we really need to take active measures to make sure that we have a healthy and sustainable workplace, so we are working on that and we continue to do so. But no, it is absolutely not true that anyone is or has ever been forced to do a 100-hour working week."


  • 6 85 per cent of FIFA Ultimate Team packs are earned, not bought

    85 per cent of FIFA Ultimate Team packs are earned, not bought  logo

    Most FIFA Ultimate Team packs that are consumed are not bought, according to EA.

    VP of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins said that 85 per cent of these packs are earned within the game, not bought.

    "As I said, there is an element of surprise, for sure, but before you acquire a pack, whether you earn it or you buy it—just to be clear, 85% of the packs that are awarded in FIFA are earned—you know generally how many items are in there, or how many player items will be over a certain rating," she said.

    "You may not know exactly which players you are getting or exactly which items you are getting, and that is the element of surprise."


Editor - PC Games Insider

Alex Calvin launched PCGamesInsider.biz in August 2017 and has been its editor since. Prior to this, he was deputy editor at UK based games trade paper MCV and content editor for marketing and events for London Games Festival 2017. His work has also appeared in Eurogamer, The Observer, Kotaku UK, Esquire UK and Develop.

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