EA’s hot mess Star Wars: Battlefront II just keeps getting messier. Continuing a saga that feels as long as the film series the game is based on, the Belgium Gaming Commission has concluded that the game’s controversial loot crates are indeed a form of gambling (per VTM News). Additionally, Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee (D) has begun a crusade against the ”predatory behavior” of these loot crates, mentioning Battlefront II by name.
In a press conference (video below), Lee calls the EA-published game a “Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money,” cheekily adding “it’s a trap.” The state representative intends to introduce legislation that would ban the sale of games containing loot boxes from minors, with the hopes that other state governments would follow suit afterwards. Upon seeing the YouTube video of his announcement being spread around, Lee had more to say on Reddit:
People are more powerful than they think. While we are stepping up to act in Hawaii, we have also been in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue. Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.
Lee adds on:
These kinds of lootboxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed. This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all.
Lee is hoping that the issue will be tackled by the larger United States; meanwhile, Belgium hopes to spread awareness of the issue throughout Europe. Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens says (via VTM News): “Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.” The gaming commission will work through the European Union in an attempt to implement a full ban on these loot boxes.
All of this comes despite EA’s last-minute decision to remove in-game microtransactions from the game, though the removal is temporary and these microtransactions could return to the game at any point. It is clear that the loot box controversy is now not only an issue within the videogame community, but is also bleeding into the mainstream consciousness. With national and state governments attempting to intervene, it appears that this will be a definitive period for business practices in the videogame industry.
Check back with Paste to see how this predicament unfolds.