Loot boxes or surprise mechanics? Here’s our pitches for new microtransaction doublespeak

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We’re coming up with new terms for game industry executives and lobbyists to use to hide how exploitative loot boxes, microtransactions and more can be.

On Wednesday, June 19, in front of the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee at an oral evidence session, EA’s VP of legal and government affairs, Kerry Hopkins, attempted to mitigate the impact about a question over the ethics of EA’s loot boxes by not referring to them at loot boxes, but “surprise mechanics.”

In her defense of EA’s aggressive monetization methods, as reported by PCGamesN, she likened those FIFA packs and other means of EA Sports extracting as many dollars from their userbase as possible to surprise toys such as Kinder Eggs or Hatchimals.

The irony of Ms. Hopkins comparing EA’s microtransactions to Kinder Eggs that have toys in them (something that remains illegal in the US as a measure to safeguard children who don’t know better) aside, this must be the most naked attempt in public history to downplay the gamble-like nature of loot boxes.

EA’s goal in front of this UK Parliament committee is to downplay the seriousness of legislating an aspect of business that allows them to earn insane amounts of money by creating artificial, digital rarity and selling it to the public. More importantly, they’re comparing digitally licensed products you can’t trade or sell openly with physical products; a wholly unfair comparison.

I don’t speak for everyone at App Trigger, but I was actually shocked and brought to laughter when hearing EA’s attempt to mitigate the seriousness by calling their loot boxes surprise mechanics. The stark comparisons to 1984’s doublespeak, a language of deliberately vague statements, compelled me to come up with this list of other terms to obfuscate other games industry lingo that game executives would rather use instead.

Here’s our pitch list for new terms to use for microtransactions and other gaming boondoggles.

“Paid level boost” becomes “Time-savers”: Why enjoy a full game with a new character when you can pay the game to play it for you?

“Paid cosmetic items” become “Fashion-forward shopping trips”: Nothing screams fun like spending money to buy things that used to be free in fighting games!

“Skin gambling” becomes “Marketplace shenanigans”: Remember, Valve was profiting off of illegal skin gambling targeted at minors via the Steam Community Market before being sued earlier this year.

“Ultimate Team packs” become “Random roster fun enablers”: Just forget you’re spending upwards of $100 USD to buy into a virtual currency; think of it as an investment in fun!

“Online pass” becomes “Freedom checkpoint”: Sure, you’re cleared to play our old PS3 and Xbox 360 games online for free. Just make sure you keep that to yourself.

“Pay-to-win” becomes “Invest to succeed”: Don’t think of it as a means to pay your way to the top, but as an opportunity to bolster your gameplay potential to the maximum!

“Time gate” becomes “Rest mechanics”: You don’t have to spend $2.99 to replenish your puzzle attempts; just use the mobile game’s rest mechanics to restore your energy!

“Loot box” becomes “Prize crate”: Wait a minute, Forza 7 already did this. Thank god they were removed!

“Anti-gambling loot box laws” become “Differences of legislative opinion”: It’s clear that the UK and Australian gambling commissions are upholding their laws concerning randomized microtransactions in good faith, while the ones that prevent us from generating billions of dollars are “interpreting the law” wrong.

“Video game unions” become “Game development restrictors”: Even though FIFA generates roughly $800 million a year in microtransactions, improving the quality of life for employees would mean the end of video games as we know it.

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What are some of your suggestions for alternative loot box names and other gaming terms? Let us know in the comments below.