EA is reportedly under criminal investigation by the Belgian government for its FIFA loot boxes. The Belgian Gaming Commission determined the loot boxes in FIFA 18 to be an “illegal game of chance” back in April of this year, and warned EA that it would face investigation if loot boxes weren’t disabled in Belgium. The company has not complied, so if the public prosecutor’s office in Brussels wants to, it can take the case to court.
EA wasn’t the only games publisher to be called out by the Belgian Government earlier this year, as gambling accusations were also levelled at Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and NBA 2K. The publishers behind these games elected to disable loot boxes in compliance with the ruling, though according to translated reports from Belgium’s Metro (https://nl.metrotime.be/2018/09/10/news/brussels-parket-voert-onderzoek-naar-ea-voor-loot-boxes-in-spel-fifa-18/), it seems that EA is standing firm.
The Belgian Government has been waging war on randomized loot boxes for a while now, considering them to be a game of chance which constitutes as gambling. EA does not share this position, with EA CEO Andrew Wilson stating the following during a conference call back in May:
We don't believe that FIFA Ultimate Team or loot boxes are gambling firstly because players always receive a specified number of items in each pack, and secondly we don't provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money,
We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the Brussels public prosecutor’s office decides to take the matter any further, though it’s clear that the discussion around loot boxes and microtransactions as a form of gambling is far from over.
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