Representatives of EA and Epic Games spoke on Wednesday in front of a British parliamentary panel (transcript). They were there to defend the games industry against charges of addictive gameplay and encouragement to gamble on loot boxes. However, at least one of these representatives questioned the basic premise that coincidental article purchases should initially be labeled as "loot boxes".
"This is what we call 'surprise mechanics'," EA Legal and Kerry Hopkins, vice president of government affairs, told the panel when asked about the ethics of loot crates. "It's important to look at this ̵
As implemented in a game like FIFA Hopkins went on to argue that this surprise mechanic is "fairly ethical and entertaining to humans" [and] … We think it's like many other products that people enjoy in a very healthy way, they like the element of surprise.  "The packs – the surprise we talked about earlier – are fun for people," Hopkins said. They enjoy it. They like to earn packs, open packs and form and trade teams. "
Hopkins cited decisions by the British and Australian gambling commissions that loot boxes are not gambling, adding that opposing decisions by Belgium and the Netherlands are in part due to "different laws of gambling" in countries that criminalize loot boxes to varying standards.
What is considered "addictive"?
Apart from loot boxes, the hearing focused mainly on whether games such as Fortnite and FIFA made the player base at least in part unsafe. Legislators suggested that game manufacturers could have "due diligence" to prevent the most compulsive use of their products, based on an online Harms White Paper published by the UK government in April.
As lawmakers drew attention to the recent World Health Organization diagnosis of "gaming disorder", industry officials were pushing for the implications of this decision.
"We do not think our game is addictive," said Matthew Weissinger, director of marketing at Epic Games. "I think the use of the term addiction unfortunately masks the passion that our players have and the joy they have in our game." Personally, I think it's a misidentification of a term like "addiction." "
Anecdotes from players who spend a great deal of time or money on games such as Epn Games Epic Games general counsel Canon Pence admitted that "like most things in the world, there's a possibility." To have an unhealthy level of commitment may even be practice. "Hopkins added," Some people probably think that I spend too much time reading books, I know that my partner spends too much time with billiards, but he spends this time with billiards, because he likes doing that and being very good at it, it's really nothing we could look at and say: Well, that person has been playing too many hours and is therefore unhealthy. & # 39; "
" We work closely with our industry peers to provide tools and information, "said Hopkins. "We can not diagnose people, we can not go to their apartment and tell them how to play." When a lawmaker suggested it was unhealthy to play ten hours in a row, Hopkins replied, "I'm very respectful, but why can I say that? How can I say that? Did a doctor say?" Is it unhealthy to play 10 hours in a row? "
" Some players, such as FIFA and FIFA Ultimate Team are competitive and want to continue to improve. "Electronic Arts British Country Manager Shaun Campbell added," For players seeking a career in sports, this is what they do: they practice and love spending time playing. It is difficult to describe what is exaggerated. Ultimately, that is what feels out of balance for the individual. "
" Although there was not much agreement between the two sides of the hearing, and still less with a view to resolute action, there were signs of compromise and " Agreement. "I'm sure the industry can do more," Pence said. "I admit that we have room to grow, I would not expect you to be able to ask us any further questions in the future, but I hope we can make further improvements."