EA Hit With Canadian Lawsuit Over Lootboxes

A class action lawsuit has been filed in Canada against EA over lootboxes which appeared in both the Madden series and the EA NHL series.

The complaint states that one Mark Sutherland (living in British Columbia) and Shawn Moore (of Ontario) bought lootboxes in the aforementioned EA games, and that the lootboxes violate a large number of Canadian statutes regarding gambling. The suit was filed by the law firm of Slater Vecchio LLP in Vancouver, British Columbia. The filing reads in part, “The senior officers and directors of [Electronic Arts] were at all times fully aware of the unlawful nature of their enterprise and took active steps to carry it out. In the alternative, the senior officers and directors… were reckless or willfully blind to the unlawful nature of their enterprise and took active steps to implement it.”

Over 60 different EA titles, most of them sports games but also later instances of the Battlefield series as well as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda, are listed as being in violation of Canadian law. The suit also indicates there may be other titles they are currently unware of but could fall under the same umbrella. The plaintiffs are seeking damages under the Competition Act and a declaration that EA violated the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

Food For Thought

A cursory glance of the suit suggests it is following the pattern of other suits filed elsewhere. However, one potential flaw may have been inadvertently introduced. While lootboxes in and of themselves are potentially suspect, the sale of XP boosters (distasteful though they may be) is reasonably straightforward. The suit characterizes the XP boosters as items that “speed a player’s progression through in-game ‘ranks,’ unlocking combat roles, weapons, and equipment that give a player an in-game advantage.” While true, any advantage conferred is going to be fleeting, since other players aren’t losing XP just because somebody uses a booster and are going to be progressing regardless of what a player using a booster does.

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