EA Makes Billions From Its Prevent Defense on Loot Boxes

EA Makes Billions From Its Prevent Defense on Loot Boxes

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Don't worry, there's PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S stuff in here too

This Week in Business is a collection of stats and quotes from our sister site GamesIndustry.biz that sheds light on console sales, new trends, and more. Check back every Friday for a new entry!

I'm not sure there's anything more "on-brand" for me than writing about loot boxes during a week with two big new console releases and a packed slate of new releases including a new Call of Duty, a new Assassin's Creed, Destiny 2: Beyond Light, and the utterly sublime Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

But even with all this going on in the industry, and a global pandemic still raging, the loot box debate has remained top of mind of late. Electronic Arts has had three new lawsuits filed against it over loot boxes just since August. Last month a Dutch court ruled that FIFA Ultimate Team violated gambling laws and upheld a €10 million fine against EA. And just this week, EA rolled out new tools for players to limit how much time and money they spend on FIFA 21.

I've been expecting the other shoe to drop on loot boxes for years now. And while I still think it's coming, it hasn't been coming as quickly as I had expected.

The pandemic hasn't helped, to be sure, but I think part of it is also because the various games industry players have been dragging their heels; not because they hope the problem will go away (even though they do) or because they don't have any idea on how to fix the problem without hurting the bottom line (even though they don't), but because they're making so much money with their kid-friendly gambling operations that every month they can postpone a resolution around the issue means hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank. Because in EA's case, it's literally more than $100 million a month.

STAT | 27% - The amount of Electronic Arts' total revenues last year that was accounted for by Ultimate Team modes, a total of $1.49 billion, as I mentioned in this editorial about how EA has painted itself into a corner with its penchant for gambling.

QUOTE | "The integration of both tracking and limits in FIFA Playtime is grounded in research that shows that having access to more information helps players feel comfortable with how they play. When combined with smart prompts to guide choices, players were able to better find a comfortable balance in their gaming. We will continue to evolve and adapt these tools and resources to give you even more ways to shape your gaming experience." - EA leans heavily on "comfort" in explaining why it is introducing FIFA Playtime spending controls to fix a problem it won't admit to having.

STAT | 1 - The chart position of FIFA 21 on the NPD Group's list of the US' best-selling games of October, as well as GSD's October chart of the best-selling games across Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia and Africa.

QUOTE | "I think the people who want to put us against Sony based on who sold the most consoles lost the context of what gaming is about today. There are three billion people who play games on the planet today, but maybe [only] 200 million households that have a video game console. In a way, the console space is becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the overall gaming pie." - Phil Spencer explains his approach to hardware sales figures after the launch of the Xbox Series X|S.

QUOTE | "The time of hard resets is coming to an end. In with the new, standing side-by-side with the old." - GamesIndustry.biz's James Batchelor says the Xbox Series X|S points the way to a more smartphone-like upgrading experience in consoles.

QUOTE | "Travis [Scott] is incredibly creative; he pushes boundaries and constantly surprises his fans while innovating in his category. It's very similar to what we try to do as a brand in our category." - Eric Lempel, SVP and Global Head of Marketing for Sony Interactive Entertainment, talking about the PS5 ad campaign and doing his best to suck every ounce of cool out of both Travis Scott and PlayStation.

STAT | 5 million - Ghost of Tsushima copies sold. The game launched July 17.

STAT | 45% - Amount of US game players who said it was "important" or "very important" to them that game publishers take a stance on social issues. 22% said it was "not important" or "not important at all." 33% were neutral.

QUOTE | "The search results for 坪枯れ are entirely in Japanese and all they reveal is that it's a disease caused by brown planthoppers. So I had to reverse lookup brown planthoppers in English and discover that they're known for spreading two rice viruses, one of which is called Rice Ragged Stunt Virus, which lines up with the meaning of the Japanese kanji." - Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin localizer Elizabeth Bushouse shares one of many oddly interesting details in this fascinating feature on what it took to bring the sidescrolling platformer rice farming sim to the West.

QUOTE | "If you're unsure about the rights, some games allow you to turn off music when streaming, or you can mute the game audio yourself." - Twitch offers some spectacularly unhelpful advice for creators worried about being caught up in the avalanche of DMCA copyright take-down claims the platform has seen this year.

QUOTE | "We're looking for companies that we feel could eventually, hopefully, be part of the Lego stable of companies..." Lego Ventures VP Robert Lowe explains the goal of his company, which just helped Light Brick Studios split off from being part of the the Lego stable of companies.

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Brendan Sinclair

North American Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry International in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at CBS-owned GameSpot in the US.

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