Electronic Arts Sports Games AI Difficulty Adjustment Class Action

Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) is known for its sports-simulation video games. These can be played via Xbox and PlayStation, either alone or online against other gamers. But the complaint for this class action alleges that, without the gamers’ knowledge, EA has artificial intelligence (AI) programs that adjust the level of difficulty of the game which deprive gamers of the full benefits of their in-game purchases.

The class for this action is all persons in the US who, from November 9, 2016 on, bought any of the EA Sports Games of the Madden NFL, FIFA, or NHL lines. A subclass has also been defined of those in the above class who bought any Player Pack or Player Card for any of the games.

At issue are the 2017 to 2021 versions of three of EA’s sports franchises: Madden NFL, FIFA, and NHL. EA releases a different version of each of these for each year, for example Madden NFL 17, Madden NFL 18, Madden NFL 19, and so on.

The players in the game are based on the real-life players in the leagues, with varying skill levels and attributes. Players are assigned ratings for various skills, such as speed, strength, and agility.

In the Ultimate Team (UT) mode, gamers can build a customized team and use it in online matches. To do this, gamers must buy loot boxes called Player Packs. Gamers pay for these with real money. Player Packs contain random player cards, which gamers can assign to their Ultimate Teams. Gamers may buy many Player Packs in hopes of getting better players.

However, the games played in UT mode do not depend solely on the players’ abilities and the gamer’s skill. EA has developed AI mechanisms that adjust game difficulty. These include Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (DDA) and Adaptive Difficulty. The complaint says, “At least some of these technologies use heuristic prediction and intervention to adaptively change the difficulty of matches, and influence or even dictate the outcomes, thereby keeping gamers more engaged.”

More engaged gamers spend more on in-game purchases. They keep playing longer than they would if the games were too difficult or too easy.

However, the complaint alleges that the mechanisms deprive gamers of the benefit of their bargains. It claims it’s the mechanisms, and not just the “skills” of the players assigned to the team plus the gamers’ skills that “dictates, or at least highly influences the outcome of the match.” They thus benefit EA in that they “make gamers believe their teams are less skilled than they actually are, leading them to purchase additional Player Packs in hopes of receiving better players and being more competitive.”

They are unfair even to players who do not purchase Player Packs, the complaint says, because a game that makes such adjustments to determine outcomes of matches is worth less than one that does not.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Electronic Arts Sports Games AI Difficulty Adjustment Complaint

November 9, 2020

Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) is known for its sports-simulation video games. These can be played via Xbox and PlayStation, either alone or online against other gamers. But the complaint for this class action alleges that, without the gamers’ knowledge, EA has artificial intelligence (AI) programs that adjust the level of difficulty of the game which deprive gamers of the full benefits of their in-game purchases.

Electronic Arts Sports Games AI Difficulty Adjustment Complaint

Case Event History

Electronic Arts Sports Games AI Difficulty Adjustment Complaint

November 9, 2020

Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) is known for its sports-simulation video games. These can be played via Xbox and PlayStation, either alone or online against other gamers. But the complaint for this class action alleges that, without the gamers’ knowledge, EA has artificial intelligence (AI) programs that adjust the level of difficulty of the game which deprive gamers of the full benefits of their in-game purchases.

Electronic Arts Sports Games AI Difficulty Adjustment Complaint
Tags: Electronic Games, Entertainment, Unfair Provisions in Electronic Game