A report on loot boxes, written by the Norwegian Consumer Council, has targeted FIFA 22 packs for misleading players about their odds of getting rewards.
The NCC states that the companies use “layers of virtual currencies to mask or distort real-world monetary costs”.
The report, published on May 31st, is an investigation into “how the gaming industry exploits consumers using loot boxes” and identifies FIFA 22 as a case study for this type of behavior. It goes on to accuse developer EA of employing “a wide arsenal of tricks to push consumers into spending as much time and money as possible exploiting consumers hope to receive the reward despite a minuscule chance and likelihood to do so.”
According to the NCC FIFA 22 markets its packs by trying to trigger players’ fear of missing out, and claims that EA’s transparency regarding odds are “meaningless probability disclaimers” that do not tell players the actual probability of getting specific cards.
Continuing on, the NCC claim that even when players get their desired reward from a pack, they rarely stay valuable due to “the FIFA gameplay cycle” that introduces stronger cards as the year goes on.
“This creates a continuous gameplay loop, where players are continuously encouraged to open packs in the hope of obtaining upgraded cards to keep up with other players.”
Another major talking point is the reports claims that FIFA‘s pack probabilities are “dynamically generated”. They “can potentially be manipulated in real time based on any number of factors, all with the objective of incentivizing and maximizing spending”. Because there are no listed odds players on the verge of halting purchases as a result of bad luck could be artificially given a high-value card in an effort to bring them back.
In summary, the report says “it appears obvious that the design and mechanisms driving in-game purchases in these games are predatory, manipulative, and exceedingly aggressive, targeting consumer vulnerabilities at every opportunity.”
The report has been backed by 20 consumer groups across 18 companies, urging governments across the world to regulate loot boxes. The report calls for gaming companies to be banned from “using deceptive design to exploit consumers” and says in-game currencies should “always be denominated in real-world currency.”
It adds that games likely to be played by minors should not offer loot boxes for real money, nor should they include pay-to-win mechanics. The report also calls for more transparency on algorithms and better ways for consumer enforcement authorities to enforce these rules.
If these steps do not alleviate the identified issues, the NCC says governments should “consider a ban of paid loot boxes”.
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