Loot Boxes Out of Blizzard’s ‘Overwatch’, but EA Games Keeps Them in ‘FIFA’

Posted on: August 12, 2022, 07:29h. 

Last updated on: August 12, 2022, 01:41h.

There is still no consensus on whether loot boxes in video games constitute gambling. As the debate rages on from one country to the next, different gaming companies are taking different approaches to their survivability.

Overwatch loot box
A loot box inside the Overwatch video game. Blizzard will discontinue the use of loot boxes in Overwatch, but EA Games still sees their value. (Image: Blizzard)

For non-gamers, a loot box is a virtual item which can be purchased in-game. They contain a random selection of virtual items, i.e. loot, which can include customization options for a player’s avatar or weapons and armor to be used in the video game.

From the US to the Netherland to Australia, the only commonality in the legal perception of loot boxes is that there is none. Some countries believe the ability of a gamer to buy an unknown in-game object amounts to gambling, while others debunk the idea.

However, until there is global consensus, video game developers will have to determine what best suits their consumer goals and objectives. Two such developers, Blizzard and EA Games, have made that determination.

Blizzard Shuts Down ‘Overwatch’ Loot Boxes

Blizzard, half of the Activision Blizzard team that Microsoft wants to purchase, is going to strip out loot boxes from Overwatch, one of its most popular and long-running games. As of the end of this month, gamers will not be able to buy loot boxes with cash.

However, there will be other options. First, players will be able to exchange points for loot boxes, although that will eventually go away as well. Then, later this year, all loot boxes will disappear in favor of Blizzard’s “Battle Pass” system.

“Battle Pass” will become available when the game developer introduces Overwatch 2 in October. The game is going to be a free-to-play update that Blizzard hopes will reignite its interest in the gaming community.

“Battle Pass,” versions of which can be found in other video games such as Fortnite, will offer two channels – free and paid – in Overwatch 2. Both provide access to in-game items, upgrades, and more. However, the paid version will reportedly offer easier and faster access to certain premium items.

Blizzard announced the arrival of “Battle Pass” to Overwatch 2 this summer, adding that each season will bring additional content. In addition, Overwatch 1 users will be able to transfer their rewards to the latest iteration when it launches.

FIFA 23 Scores a Goal with Loot Boxes

While Blizzard is moving away from loot boxes, EA Games is defiantly standing by the option. Motivated, in part, by the UK’s rejection of a ban on them, the company is going to keep loot boxes for its upcoming – and possibly final – FIFA 23 game.

EA has faced backlash before over loot boxes, with countries like Germany and Belgium ordering it to halt the practice. However, for FIFA 23’s Ultimate Team mode, they’ll be alive and kicking.

EA told Eurogamer recently that it will keep its Ultimate Team (FUT) card packs in the game. They have been part of the FIFA ecosystem for more than 10 years, and the developer stated that they’re too popular to ignore.

There is a common misconception about loot boxes. Many believe that players are obligated to spend money to receive them. However, in the majority of the cases, they can also exchange points or rewards for the items. This is true with EA’s FUT packs. The company said that “nine out of 10 FUT packs opened in FIFA 22 were earned.”

Some people claim that not knowing what the loot boxes contain before gamers purchase them is the same as gambling. However, the difference with the in-game products is that there is always a prize – players never walk away empty-handed.

Still, because the word gambling appears, opponents argue that loot boxes lead to gambling harm. However, a report the European Parliament commissioned two years ago disputes this. It concluded, “Some research has found that problem gambling and paying for loot boxes are related. However, there is no consensus on a causal link between loot boxes and harmful behaviour.”