Two plaintiffs are seeking damages over "unlicensed, illegal gaming system."
EA loot box lawsuit

Electronic Arts is facing a class action lawsuit in Canada that concerns the implementation and use of loot boxes in over 60 titles. The lawsuit was filed in Canada on September 30 by two plaintiffs, Mark Sutherland and Shawn Moore.

The lawsuit was first discovered by The Patch Notes, an esports law blog. They break down the lawsuit in fairly simple terms for us. In short, the lawsuit says that loot boxes are a form of gambling. Due to this, they are prohibited by the gambling provisions of the Criminal Code and various other statutes.

As EA includes loot boxes in its titles, the plaintiffs are saying that EA is operating an "unlicensed gambling business," which is apparently a "breach of the aforementioned Criminal Code and other statutes."

The plaintiffs also allege that the way in which EA implemented loot boxes, including not publishing the odds of winning various prizes, and making them "semi-necessary for progression, breached various consumer protection statutes, including the BC Consumer Protection Act."

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the two aforementioned plaintiffs along with any Canadian customer that purchased loot boxes in near every EA game that includes loot boxes. As we mentioned previously, the lawsuit includes over 60 titles from EA that include these loot boxes.

The range of titles included in the lawsuit include the FIFA franchise, Madden, Battlefield, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, Dragon Age, and even Plants vs. Zombies. Additional titles include such mobile offerings as Command & Conquer: Rivals, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, and WarFriends. A note on the lawsuit says that there may be even more titles that the plaintiffs are unaware of.

The full filing can be found here (PDF), again courtesy of The Patch Notes.

"The senior officers and directors of [Electronic Arts] were at all times fully aware of the unlawful nature of their enterprise and took active steps to carry it out.

"In the alternative, the senior officers and directors... were reckless or willfully blind to the unlawful nature of their enterprise and took active steps to implement it."
The lawsuit is seeking damages for both Moore and Sutherland under the Competition Act. They are also seeking a declaration that EA has violated the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act. The two are represented by a "well-respected firm in (British Columbia), as well (by) one of BC's most prominent class action solo practitioners."

What happens now? Well, The Patch Notes lays it out plainly for what happens here in the short term.

The Notice of Civil Claim was filed on September 30, 2020. Under the rules of court EA has 3 weeks from then to file its response from when it was served. That should come out later this week, and I will post about it on here when it does. After that, nothing more will likely be filed or come out publicly for at least a few months.

One big step in class actions like these is the class certification hearing, in which the court determines whether a case can proceed as a class action or not. That likely won’t be until many months down the line (assuming the case doesn’t settle before then), but it will be a public hearing and may see some media coverage.

Realistically, though, as with all legal cases, this could drag on for years and years before a trial occurs, and most likely will settle before then.
If you are a Canadian that bought loot boxes from EA, nothing will be happening for now. If the case settles with some sort of a payment going to all class action members, you will probably get some sort of a notice through the contact information tied to your EA account. This will not be for a very, very, very long time should that settlement eventually happen.

(Top photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash)