Loot boxes have become one of the video game industry's most hot-button topics. Several companies like Blizzard, Valve, PUBG Corp. and EA are under the magnifying glass from legislators domestically and in Europe who are looking to investigate loot boxes. During today's financial earnings call EA pushes back on gambling claims related to FIFA Ultimate Team.
During an investors Q&A with EA executives, one person in the call asked EA CEO Andrew Wilson the company's position on the ongoing investigation into loot boxes as gambling in Europe. Belgium recently found EA's FIFA 18 in violation of its gambling rules and announced that it will be working with EA and other video game companies on how to fix these mechanics.
Wilson didn't detail any potential changes or solutions. Instead he brought up how EA is working with various organization bodies to push back on FIFA Ultimate Team's label as a gambling mechanic. "We're working with all the [video game] industry associations globally and with regulators in various jursidtictions and territories. Many of whom we have been working with for some time and who have evaluated and established that programs FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling."
Wilson added that EA doesn't "authorize" ways to cash out the company's digital currency for real-world money, and that EA "actively seek to eliminate where that's going on in an illegal environment." Wilson says that because ther is no real-world value associated with Ultimate Team, the mechanic isn't gambling.
Of course as our sister site Eurogamer found last year, you can certainly cash out in Ultimate Team for real money. Thereby giving value to Ultimate Team via third-party channels.
Loot boxes have come under heavy scrutiny in Europe. The Netherlands also recently ruled that loot boxes ran against the country's gambling laws and will try and enact changes into loot box mechanics for its players. It's unclear exactly how video game companies will react to these findings, but it's clear that the decisions are no laughing matter.
As we've covered before, the loot box conversation has already affected game development on titles with loot boxes. One developer has already looked at the current loot box landscape and made decisions on how to monetize the game based on the current climate.
Even EA, which kickstarted the loot box debate with Star Wars Battlefront 2, has reacted by fundamentally changing how progression and loot work in Battlefront 2. Other games targeted by European legislators include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and PUBG.
To learn more about FIFA 18 Ultimate Team check out our complete Ultimate Team guide for the full details.