Fortnite CEO Says Loot Boxes Akin to Slot Machine Gambling

  • Tim Sweeney likened loot boxes to slot machines at DICE 2020 summit
  • While he is CEO, Epic Games will never include loot boxes in its releases
  • Sweeney believes the industry is moving away from the loot box model
  • He deems cross-platform play to be an integral part of gaming in the future 
characters from the Fortnite video game
During his DICE 2020 summit talk, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney likened loot boxes in video games to gambling on slot machines. [Image: Shutterstock,com]

Sweeney makes a bold statement

The CEO of Epic Games, the makers of the massively popular Fortnite game, said loot boxes in video games are like gambling on slot machines.

During a talk he gave in Las Vegas at the DICE 2020 summit, CEO Tim Sweeney reiterated that Fortnite will not be getting loot boxes any time soon. The same goes for other games that fall under the Epic Games umbrella. 

Sweeney said systems using loot boxes are hostile to players. He added that these types of features should not be a part of video games in this day and age. 

The future of loot boxes in video games

Sweeney posed questions to the audience at DICE 2020 about how they wanted the future of video games to look like. He asked:

Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines, or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust?”

The CEO believes a lot of video game publishers are now moving away from the model of loot boxes. Epic Games will never implement any pay-to-win mechanisms while Sweeney is CEO, with the boss saying the company and its developers have a responsibility to its player base.

Fortnite is a free-to-play game, but it has been monetized by in-play items that do not have an effect on the outcome of a match, such as weapons and player skins. Epic Games sells Battle Passes that come with unique challenges and items, which change every few months. Many other leading titles, such as Rocket League and Apex Legends, have picked up the battle pass concept in their gameplay.

Rocket League, another Epic Games title, previously incorporated loot boxes. The feature was removed from the game towards the end of 2019 after the developer became part of Epic Games. 

The potential of cross-platform play

Sweeney also touched upon other areas in gaming where he sees potential growth in the coming years.

Among these is cross-platform play, which has been seamlessly implemented by the likes of Fortnite. It allows friends on different platforms to play with one another, leading to longer playing times and more money spent on the games. Sweeney, who considers it an integral part of gaming going forward, told his audience:

Cross-platform is the future, and we all have to do our part.”

Loot boxes a touchy subject

Loot boxes have been a touchy subject in recent times. A number of European countries have banned the feature for targeting underage video game players in their jurisdictions. Other countries maintain they do not classify loot boxes as a form of gambling.

Earlier this month, two French lawyers filed a lawsuit against Electronic Art’s video game FIFA for its Ultimate Team feature allegedly having a pay-to-win format.