Electronic Arts has won its case against a class-action lawsuit filed against the company in November 2020, which accused it of using predatory scripting in a few of its major franchises. The lawsuit has now been withdrawn, and Electronic Arts took the opportunity to reiterate that it has never used predatory scripting in any of its sports-related titles, and will not in the future.
The lawsuit originated when three Californian FIFA 21 players stated EA was taking advantage of them using a patented AI technology called dynamic difficulty adjustment. This technology supposedly skews the results of matches in online games so players must rely more on digital card packs. These cards packs have always been the subject of controversy, and EA has been hit with other allegations besides predatory scripting, such as the company of secretly nerfing Ultimate Team Cards in FIFA 21. So far none of these allegations have actually been proven, and EA's latest victory might put some rumors to bed, at least for a little while.
Electronic Arts shared in an official statement that after providing the plaintiffs with "detailed technical information and access to speak to our engineers," the plaintiffs dropped the lawsuit. Although EA does admit to owning a patent on technology called "dynamic difficulty adjustment," it claims the company has never used the technology to "adjust the difficulty of gameplay in FIFA, Madden and NHL Ultimate Team matches," according to Eurogamer.
EA further states dynamic difficulty adjustment technology "never will be" in any of its sports franchises. Gamers may wonder why EA has the patent, but it is common practice for companies to patent ideas that might never be used simply to keep other companies from patenting a similar idea. This doesn't always work, though, as seen in a recent lawsuit Ironburg Inventions filed against Valve. The lawsuit concerned Valve's Steam controller design, and Ironburg claimed it had warned Valve about the potential infringement before Valve went ahead with its design anyway.
This is not the only lawsuit EA has been fighting. A Canadian class-action lawsuit has also raised concerns with the Ultimate Team modes in Madden and NHL 21. This lawsuit alleges that loot boxes in Ultimate Team modes are basically "illegal gambling system[s]" that encourage players to spend more money to have a chance at getting better loot. Loot box microtransactions are scrutinized more often now than ever before, with opponents insisting that loot boxes are especially dangerous to younger audiences.
That said, EA Sports games in particular contributed to strong sales growth in its 2020 third quarter, and EA is already looking forward to developing a revived EA Sports College Football series. Whether or not Ultimate Team card pack mechanics will feature in the college football series isn't known yet, but with these mechanics in so many other EA Sports games, it seems likely.
EA has been filing a flurry of patents lately, from patents for improving loading screen wait times, to patents aimed at changing in-game advertising. Recently the gaming giant added another patent to the list. This time, however, the patent focuses on improving the mobile sports gaming experience.
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