Exploring EA Games: Loot Boxes, Ethics, and Utilitarianism - A Critical Analysis

Published: 2024-01-17
Exploring EA Games: Loot Boxes, Ethics, and Utilitarianism - A Critical Analysis
Essay type:  Analytical essays
Categories:  Video games Analysis Ethics Community
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1859 words
16 min read


This report seeks to address the current practices in the EA games: FIFA, loot boxes, and whales, which, according to the public, are gambling practices and detrimental to its users' behavior in society. The concern raises questions on EA Games' position as an ethical company due to the increasing number of bad habits related to playing its games. The cases mostly occur among children as in-game purchases known as loot boxes. The loot boxes cause children to spend most of their time playing these games while hoping to receive a better reward, resulting in addiction. It raises concerns about whether these games are beneficial to the children or cause more damage to their lives.

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Additionally, children are spending their parents' fortune on these games, increasing cases of immoral behavior. In a post on the telegraph by Boland (2019), a child in the United Kingdom spends 1000 euros per year on loot box mechanics, specifically the FIFA series. He further notes that this amount totals to 270 million euros a year (Boland 2019). Keeping this situation in mind, the company needs to seek a long-lasting solution to loot boxes that will benefit both parties.

Role of Business

EA is a leading industry in digital interactive entertainment production, which develops and delivers various games, content, and online services for mobile devices, internet-connected consoles, and computers (Hodent, 2019). Over the years, the company has witnessed an increase in the number of subscribers worldwide. With a high customer base, the facility has a high profit margin that results from the purchase of its services (Hodent, 2019). The main aim of the firm is to provide entertainment to people of various age groups. However, as they strive to improve their services continuously, there are emerging cases that need consideration. The industry is associated with an increase in immoral behaviors, especially among children, where they spend their parents’ finances to purchase the company’s product. (Hodent, 2019) The parliament also accuses the firm of engaging children in gambling practices through loot boxes, a feature in their games where one gets rewards for playing these games (Hodent, 2019). In such cases, the company needs to clarify its objectives and find a lasting solution to these problems.


In developing their products, EA Games failed to consider how their games' specific features would negatively affect its users. The company's shareholders are the primary beneficiaries of its services, and they receive high revenues for the purchase of their products (Zendle & Cairns, 2019). According to EA (2020), the company's net income was $4.95 billion in 2019. The company has increased its net revenue in 2020 to $5.5 billion a month from the end of the year (EA 2020). With the quality of games they offer, the company is likely to increase or maintain its annual profits due to the number of clients the firm retains or attracts. As much as they earn enormous profits, the company fails to consider their products' impact on gamers' lives, especially the children.

Other stakeholders of the company are the gamers who are disadvantaged by these games' effects on their lives (Hodent, 2019). Gaming causes addiction, thus, negatively influencing a person's behavior. Loot games, which are a form of gambling, lead to gamers' financial difficulties as they strive to achieve their mission (Hodent, 2019). Further, parents are also affected by these games, where children use their financial details to purchase games. It causes strain on their resources, limiting their ability to provide basic needs to the family (Hodent, 2019). EA failed to consider how children would raise the funds necessary to purchase these games when designing them.

Additionally, they did not contemplate the financial problems that parents will have to incur when their child plays these games or purchases certain game features (Zendle & Cairns, 2019). Gambling is an illegal act for underage children, meaning that the local government will have to deal with children's bookmaking consequences (Zendle & Cairns, 2019). This conduct will influence how they will grow and lead to bad deeds where theft cases will be high for those who want to raise funds to purchase EA products. Also, the employees of EA will be affected by how they develop their products. If a game they produce receives less reaction from gamers, they will have to add new features to the game to make it relevant and attractive (Zendle & Cairns, 2019). By doing so, they may fail to consider the ethical implications of the new features they are adding to the game (Zendle & Cairns, 2019). In the end, the added aspect of the game could have a negative influence on those who play it.

Examples of Good and Bad Ethics

From an ethical perspective, EA should ensure that its products do not negatively influence society. Therefore, the company should consider the features they use to reduce its toll, especially on children. Adhering to the ethics guidelines ensures that a company gets a good reputation and publicity (Kelley et al., 2019). An example of a company with ethical practices with a broad customer base is Microsoft (Kelley et al., 2019). The company is always open and transparent with information to its clients regarding bugs and updates (Kelley et al., 2019). This move has improved the company's reputation, aligning the company's mission with the services it offers. By providing information on how clients will benefit from its services, the company has earned its customers' trust, making it a going concern. It has made the facility competitive where they can stay ahead of their rival in terms of the quality of service delivered.

Unlike Microsoft, some companies disregard ethical practices. In a BBC column report, research on Assam tea plantations in India noted that the farm violates human rights (Rao, 2018). There were child labor cases where a child aged fourteen worked on the plantation (Rao, 2018). Further, claims of poor working conditions in the farm were evident with workers living in broken houses that had poor sanitation (Rao, 2018). Assam plantation is a significant tea supplier to various UK brands, including PG Tips and Tetleys (Rao, 2018). As a result of these allegations, companies such as Harrods refrained from the purchase of these products. Due to these acts, Assam faces the challenges of attracting or retaining clients given their damaged reputation. Had the plantation adhered to all the ethical considerations, they would be drawing and keeping more clients given their products' quality.


With the challenges associated with loot boxes, there is a need to find a lasting solution. The best way to control the effect of loot boxes is by involving various agencies in their development. EA should consider involving national authorities responsible for consumer protection, education, health, and financial regulation in their decision-making. This move will help ensure that the features the company intends to use in its games are regulated to reduce the effect on gamers. EA Sports can also include parental control features to their services to enable parents to regulate their children's games and the features they can access. This feature will help reduce the number of children using loot boxes and help entertain them without negatively impacting their lives.

Further, the company should communicate with gamers to be aware of their actions before performing them. The information should be such that before the users purchase loot games, they are aware of the limitations of their actions to inform them of the possible risks they are exposing themselves to. It will help to educate gamers on the effects such activities can have on their lives, warning them not to get used to these events. Additionally, the company can restrict its clients' age to ensure that all who decide to purchase loot boxes are adults. By allowing only adults to use certain features, the company will enable underage users to enjoy the game without exposing themselves to the game's harmful content. This act allows the adults to take full responsibility for their actions to make sound decisions about their lives, making them able to face the law if they misbehave.

Theory of Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is a theory of morality that promotes activities that result in happiness and opposes acts that lead to harm (Playford et al., 2015). Regarding any political, social, and economic activity, the idea of utilitarianism advocates for the benefit of society (Playford et al., 2015). It means that an action that a firm or person intends to perform should also benefit the community rather than for personal gains only. When engaging in a business, the theory requires the owner to ensure that the enterprise produces goods and services that bring happiness to the community. The desires of the people you want to serve should be ahead of the personal gains or profit that one aims to attain. It is not right for a company to realize a large profit margin while interfering with the lives of the people around it or its product users (Playford et al., 2015). For instance, a company cannot produce goods that are dangerous to the health of the community around it. Further, the process of production should not pose health risks to the people living nearby in the future or at the moment (Playford et al., 2015). Generally, conducting the daily routines should ensure that people living within benefit from the company with job opportunities and development of projects within the area to help improve the lives of the community.

The theory's guiding principles require that all parties be happy because happiness is the only factor that has intrinsic value (Playford et al., 2015). It is not of any importance if a firm is negatively affecting the community's lives. Nothing they will do will bring happiness to them unless they stop the activity that the people living within disapprove of. Another principle is that if an action is right, it will always promote happiness, and if it is wrong, it leads to sadness (Playford et al., 2015). Additionally, a guiding principle of the theory states that everyone's satisfaction counts equally (Playford et al., 2015). There is no point in impressing a section of the community while oppressing others. In this scenario, there will be activities that a firm conducts that are not beneficial to the community.

In this case study, utilitarianism's theory is applicable in that EA should ensure that the products they deal in bring joy to all the stakeholders. Currently, the shareholders and gamers are enjoying the products with the profits realized and entertainment consecutively. However, their products bring sadness to parents who have to incur unwanted costs of purchasing loot boxes. Additionally, the local community and authorities have to deal with immorality cases that result from playing these games. Suppose the company applies this theory to the development of the games. In that case, they will address the parent's and the local authority's concerns and adopt measures that ensure they make everyone in the community happy.

The advantage of this theory is that it incorporates everyone's ideas to bring the best results possible (Playford et al., 2015). Giving society the voice to raise their opinions will ensure that a product's development suits everyone's needs. Additionally, the theory helps to measure what is wrong and right (Playford et al., 2015). The approach provides an assessment of the firm's goals, thus, pointing out the negative and positive consequences of their actions.

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Exploring EA Games: Loot Boxes, Ethics, and Utilitarianism - A Critical Analysis. (2024, Jan 17). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/exploring-ea-games-loot-boxes-ethics-and-utilitarianism-a-critical-analysis

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