EA has had a lawsuit filed against them in the US over its Ultimate Team loot boxes.
A Gamesindustry.biz report states that the class-action lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court of Northern California that focuses on the alleged use of Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment, a feature which artificially adjusts the difficulty to encourage players to purchase loot boxes to advance.
Ultimate Team is currently available in the company’s Madden NFL, FIFA, and NHL sports franchises. The Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment pushes users to buy Player Packs, even making players with higher stats not function as well as they should.
“EA’s undisclosed use of Difficulty Adjusting Mechanisms deprives gamers who purchase Player Packs of the benefit of their bargains because EA’s Difficulty Adjusting Mechanisms, rather than only the stated ranking of the gamers’ Ultimate Team players and the gamers’ relative skill, dictates, or at least highly influences the outcome of the match,” the lawsuit states.
“This is a self-perpetuating cycle that benefits EA to the detriment of EA Sports gamers, since Difficulty Adjusting Mechanisms make gamers believe their teams are less skilled than they actually are, leading them to purchase additional Player Packs in hopes of receiving better players and being more competitive.”
When asked to comment, EA responded to Gamesindustry.biz and stated: “We believe the claims are baseless and misrepresent our games, and we will defend.”
The company released a statement last year (2019) addressing the issue, denying any use of Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment. It said that it “would never use it to advantage or disadvantage any group of players against another in any of [their] games”, and that the “technology was designed to explore how we might help players that are having difficulty in a certain area of a game have an opportunity to advance.”
Despite this, it’s still felt that EA’s use of the system violate the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law. The group plans to continue with the lawsuit, with action being taken in the form of fixing the misrepresentation of Player Packs, correct advertisement, restitution of funds if the court finds the process unlawful.
EA is also currently unsure whether it will be raising the prices of its next-gen games. During a recent earnings call, the company stated it was too early to tell and that it doesn’t “really want to weigh in on that yet.”
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