“These kinds of lootboxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology”
Heavily inspired by the recent online outrage in response to Battlefront II‘s pay-to-win layout, Rep Chris Lee (D) from Hawaii made a statement earlier today outlining his plan to fight the "predatory behavior" of video publishers like EA, even invoking the words of Admiral Ackbar himself: “It’s a trap!”
Lee would go on to describe Battlefront II as a “Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money.”
EA, one of the most hated gaming companies in the world (and Worst Company in America two years in a row), has come under fire for its abuse of microtransactions many times in the past. The backlash in response to the recently released Star Wars: Battlefront II, however, has been unprecedented — so unprecedented that EA disabled in-game purchases a day before the game’s release to appease outraged customers.
That’s just one game though, and there’s no reason to believe EA won’t attempt to add purchasable loot boxes to the game again in the future. Battlefront is just a symptom of a greater issue plaguing the video game industry and threatening to change it forever.
The video garnered attention early on, reaching the front page of Reddit and prompting a response from Chris Lee himself in the comments section. Here’s what he said:
Chris Lee here – I’m the one in the suit. My staff just told me someone apparently found this youtube upload before we had a chance to finish putting it together, but I thought I’d leave it up and just post here to explain that this fight can be won if people step up. This fight is about protecting kids, protecting families, freedom from exploitation, and the future of entertainment in this country.
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.
Even so, elected officials can’t do it alone. They need your support and you can compel action wherever you live by calling and emailing your own state legislators and asking them to act. But don’t stop there. Call your allies. Call your pastors and teachers and community leaders. Ask them to call your state legislators as well. Their voices are politically powerful.
I believe this fight can be won because all the key bases of political support across the country are on the same side. The religious community, the medical community, the education community, consumer advocates, parents, even many business leaders and local chambers of commerce. This is a fight that unites everyone, even the most polarized conservatives and progressives. Doing something is a political win for Democrats and Republicans alike. And frankly, we don’t need to change the laws in every state – we just need to change a few and it will be enough to draw the line and compel change.
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.
Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one. You have the power to get involved and decide this and the choice is clear: stand up now, or let this be the new normal from this point forward.