The company that underwrites FIFA should have withdrawn the decks from the popular football game following the 2020 ruling.
Of course, loot boxes and similar extras are not just a problem for the FIFA series: they have been at the centre of controversy for years over their nature and their proximity to gambling. They have been the subject of conflict in several countries, for example, in Australia, where there have been attempts to restrict them to games for over-18s, and in Spain, where video game companies selling them could face fines as a result of future legislation by the Ministry of Consumer Protection.
EA was threatened with a €10 million fine
One of the companies that faced such regulations was Electronic Arts for its famous FIFA Ultimate Team. In 2020, a ruling in the Netherlands meant that it faced a hefty fine for every week that passed without removing loot boxes from its games in the country. A year and a half later, the country’s highest court ruled in EA’s favour and overturned the fine.
The €10 million fine that Electronic Arts would have faced was also revoked, Polygon shared. The Administrative Jurisdiction Division reportedly ruled that buying and opening FIFA Ultimate Team card packs are not a “separate game” in itself; they are “part of a game of skill designed to add an element of luck”, the Dutch Council of State ruled.
The notice also stresses that “the envelopes are purchased and used to participate in the game.” Electronic Arts welcomed the ruling in a statement sent to Polygon, reaffirming their “belief that no aspect of FIFA or FIFA Ultimate Team can be considered gambling under Dutch law.”
The company never removed loot boxes from FIFA
“At Electronic Arts, our approach to game design focuses on choice, fun, fairness and value. Our priority has always been to provide a positive experience for our players in the Netherlands and around the world,” the company said. A court in The Hague ordered the company to remove the envelopes from its games, although EA appealed the decision and has never removed the envelopes from sale.
Loot boxes continue to be a primary target of criticism and lawsuits within the industry, with cases such as the recent lawsuit by Take-Two and loot boxes in NBA 2K, where plaintiffs are demanding at least five million dollars from the company.
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