Executives from Epic Games and EA have appeared before a United Kingdom government committee to discuss the use of loot boxes and microtransactions in their games, although EA now insist on calling loot boxes 'surprise mechanics'.
The participants were EA's vice president of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins, EA UK country manager Shaun Cambell, Epic marketing director Matthew Weissinger and Epic's general counsel Canon Pence.
Epic and EA discussed immersive and addictive technologies in their games, age verification and encouraging players to take breaks during prolonged gaming.
As you'd expect, EA's defence of loot boxes was comparing them to Kinder Surprise eggs, insisting they've always been parts of our lives and that people enjoy them.
"This is something that people enjoy, to enjoy surprises", they said, insisting they're "quite ethical and quite fun, enjoyable for people."
Epic, on the other hand, said were taken aback by Prince Harry's comments that the game is addictive. The MPs also mentioned the World Health Organization's decision to recognise , but Weissinger said, "We don't think our game is addictive."
They stated that with Fortnite, they aim for a generous microtransaction system that's built for long term stability, rather than short-term profits.
Asked whether they collect data on playing time of individual users, Epic said they do not.
Unfortunately, the committee wasn't satisfied with the response and MP Damien Collins replied, "I don't believe that you don't know this information and to me it arouses suspicion that this isn't something you can discuss".
Weissinger insisted that their preference is to provide tools to help parents monitor play time, rather than for Epic to do so.
Both companies said they do not employ behavioural scientists or psychologists, nor do they try to better understand players and the risk of them developing compulsive playing habits, which was also a major cause for concern.
Additionally, EA was cleared on age verification, which they do, but the MPs were surprised Epic and Fortnite do not, seeing as how the game has a 12+ rating.