Electronic Arts Says That Loot Boxes Are Basically Kinder Eggs

The loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II provided players with upgrades.EA
Now that E3 is over, things in the videogame industry—and here on the Replay roundup —are returning to normal. What does that mean? It means we get to talk about loot boxes! That, plus Nintendo fan games, and the other stories you might have missed over the past week.

Electronic Arts Insists that Loot Boxes Are 'Surprise Mechanics'

Surprise! You just spent a hundred dollars looking for a premium character costume! Isn't this wholesome?

The controversy over loot boxes—randomized, buyable collections of in-game content—continued this week with a hearing in the UK Parliament, wherein representatives from Electronic Arts and Epic Games were forced to answer questions about loot boxes, in-game addiction, and what Prince Harry thinks about Fortnite.As PC Gamer reports, when asked to defend loot boxes like those found in Star Wars Battlefront II, EA's head of legal of government affairs Kerry Hopkins compared them to Kinder Eggs, calling them "surprise mechanics" and insisting that they are "ethical" and "fun," and that they just provide a healthy, enjoyable surprise to boys and girls the whole world over. Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is continuing its investigation into "addictive and immersive technologies" so it might be a while before we find out if the members agree with EA on this.

Cult Classic Alpha Protocol Is No Longer Available on Steam

Digital storefronts are not a good way to preserve the long-term existence of old games. The latest piece of proof: Alpha Protocol, a messy but well-loved cult classic role-playing game created by Obsidian Entertainment, has been de-listed from Steam, meaning it can no longer be purchased. As reported by Rock Paper Shotgun, the game page now says that it has been removed at the request of the publisher.

The culprit, as is so often the case when this happens, is a rights dispute. Music licenses for the game, apparently, expired, and without those rights the game has to be removed, with no word on when or if it'll return. The lesson here is simple: If you like something, buy it, and buy it physically if it's at all possible. When rights conflicts erode decades worth of digital entertainment, you'll be grateful you did.

You Should Play This Super Mario Bros. Battle Royale Game Now

I feel so bad for people who make Nintendo fan games. They're obviously working with such an intense level of passion, and often create fascinating, creative, beautiful things. But by their very nature, their days are numbered. Here's how it usually goes: Someone makes a neat game, and then it eventually gets neat enough and big enough that someone in the press hears about it. It gets reported on, and then not long after, the creator gets a takedown notice. It's rough out there for Nintendo lovers.

The newest game to go viral is a neat one, though: Mario Royale, which turns the original Super Mario Bros. into, yeah, a ridiculous battle-royale game with a buncha different Marios on screen all racing to finish the levels and maybe kill each other along the way. It's wild, sloppy chaos, and you should play it while you have the chance.

Recommendation of the Week: Darkest Dungeon, by Red Hook Studios, on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, iOS

You ready to be miserable? Do you like turn-based role-playing games and H.P. Lovecraft? Are you ready to deal with some monsters and some trauma? If you answered in the affirmative to any of those questions, the brilliant, punishing Darkest Dungeon is the game for you. Plumb the depths of crypts and dungeons in a game that forces you to decide who and how to sacrifice to reach your goals. You can't be a good guy in Darkest Dungeon, but you can maybe learn what's down below, if you're good enough.
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