A backlash from gamers and concern from legislators has drawn attention to virtual add-ons that cost real-world money

When the new Star Wars video game, Battlefront II, was made public in a final testing session before a general release, it didn’t receive quite the reception its publisher, Electronic Arts, was hoping for.

It featured a confusing mixture of virtual collectibles and randomised rewards that could be used to unlock characters within the game, meaning it would take 40 hours of continuous play to access just one top-tier character such as Luke Skywalker. The system, though, could be shortcut with cash: players were able to spend real money buying so-called “loot crates” full of the required rewards and credits. Just a few thousand dollars was all it would take to unlock every character in the game. A bargain! What’s more, these loot crates were also randomised, with users not knowing what they were getting before buying.

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