EA Sued for Ultimate Team Loot Box Mechanics in FIFA, Madden

  • Class-action lawsuit is looking for $5m from EA and a jury trial
  • Plaintiff claims that Ultimate Team Packs violate California’s gambling laws
  • Lead plaintiff has spent hundreds of dollars on packs
  • EA was also sued in France earlier this year for the same thing
FIFA 20 for PS4
Electronic Arts is facing a class-action lawsuit in California in which the plaintiffs claim that Ultimate Team Packs in FIFA and Madden violate state gambling laws. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Ultimate Packs equal loot boxes

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in the Northern District of California, alleging that video game developer Electronic Arts (EA) has been violating state gambling laws in the Ultimate Team mode of some of its sports games. Plaintiff Kevin Ramirez, representing over 100 people, is seeking $5m in damages as well as a jury trial.

Of specific concern is the Ultimate Team Packs mechanic in the FIFA and Madden franchises. Ramirez says that the packs are simply a form of loot boxes that take advantage of the “just one more try” mentality.

Ultimate Team packs are simply wagers on completely randomized chances within the game”

“Purchased using real money,” the case filing reads, “the Ultimate Team packs are simply wagers on completely randomized chances within the game to win valuable professional players and other items for the EA gamer’s virtual sports team.”

Ramirez says that he, personally, has spent more than $600 on Ultimate Team Packs in FIFA and Madden since 2011.

Money for nothing

Ultimate Packs are virtual packs of cards representing professional athletes (soccer for FIFA, NFL players for Madden) that can be used to bolster a player’s roster. They can be purchased with real money or in-game currency. While the odds of receiving certain types of cards is published, the specific cards that one will receive in a pack is a mystery until the pack is opened.

As such, players may spend money on packs and never get the specific player they are targeting.

relies on creating addictive behaviors in consumers to generate huge revenues”

The lawsuit claims that EA “relies on creating addictive behaviors in consumers to generate huge revenues” and that this packs form of loot boxes “are predatory and designed to entice gamers to gamble.”

Ramirez and his legal team also say that the because Ultimate Packs are bought with real money, are randomized, and offer something of value in the game, the consoles, computers, or mobile devices they are purchased on meet the definition of “illegal gambling devices”. From the lawsuit:

“A gamer uses his console, computer, smartphone or tablet with the EA sports franchise game on it (#1); the gamer pays real-world currency for the opportunity to open an Ultimate Team Pack (#2); and the Ultimate Team Pack is a randomized chance to win something valuable in-game.”

Yet another EA lawsuit

This is not the first time this year that Electronic Arts has been sued over Ultimate Team Packs. A pair of lawsuits in France targeted EA’s FIFA 20 and its loot box transactions.

“Buying packs is nothing more than a bet. The logic of a casino has entered their homes,” attorney Victor Zagury told the French sports media outlet L’Equipe.

Zagury’s client spent €600 ($716) on FIFA packs over the course of five months, hoping to get lucky and nab a big star. The best player he uncovered was Kostas Manolas, someone with whom he had no familiarity. Because of his obsession with packs, he fell behind on his rent payments.

“The developers of this game mode have created an illusionary and particularly addictive system,” said Zagury. “Today, an 11 or 12-year-old can, without restriction, play FUT and spend money because there is no parental control system in this mode.”

The law firm that filed the class-action suit for Ramirez also sued Apple for $5m in June for allowing children to “gamble” via loot box functionality in apps found in the App Store.