It’s the Star Wars Battlefront II launch all over again. A new EA Sports lawsuit is alleging that the publisher deliberately pushed difficulty spikes in order to pressure players into buying loot boxes for the Ultimate Team mode (FUT).
When Battlefront II first launched, it was discovered that there were in-game adjustments made to persuade players into purchasing loot box items to increase skill and up the play experience. Following the backlash, the publisher quickly removed that mechanic, instead, moving back into the cosmetic-only territory. With the new lawsuit helmed by Pranko Lozano, Danyael Williams, and Jason Zajnock in California, the trio is alleging that EA is using AI tech to scale up the difficulty in this mode in order to invest money into the Ultimate Team loot box packs.
The Zajonc vs. Electronic Arts case has moved to a court in California, alleging that the publisher is utilizing “deceptive practices” and “false advertising” specifically to drum up more revenue in the FUT mode. “Unbeknownst to most… EA utilizes technologies like ‘Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment’ and ‘Adaptive Difficulty.’ These technologies use heuristic prediction and intervention to dictate or even influence outcomes, thereby keeping gamers more engaged,” the suit reads.
The lawsuit was officially filed in November and specifically addressed ways that the trio of players think that the game is using AI tech that is designed to target, and adjust, player stats in order to influence gameplay turnouts.
“This [triggers] a self-perpetuating cycle,” continues the suit, “leading them to purchase additional player packs in hopes of receiving better players and being more competitive.”
While the suit hasn’t been certified yet as a class action lawsuit, this isn’t the first time this practice has been called up against Electronic Arts. In the past, that level of manipulation has been confirmed, and it looked like the publisher may have finally conceded to abandoning the pay-to-win approach to monetization. If this lawsuit sees fruition, it will be interesting to see how investors weigh in given how many spoke out against EA when Battlefront II first launched.
EA did issue a small response, saying that “We believe the claims are baseless and misrepresent our games.”