Potential Lawsuit against EA for Loot Boxes

If there is any company that digs themselves into horrible PR messes, it has to be Electronic Arts. Following the disaster regarding the loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA promised fans they would cut back on loot boxes for future games at E3 this summer. But apparently, they didn’t state they would remove loot boxes from their current games.

Belgium developed a law that bans “video game gambling for profit” which includes loot boxes. Companies such as Blizzard and 2K have removed their loot boxes from their games earlier this year but EA’s FIFA games still have card packs. Card packs give players the chance to obtain certain players to develop their “Ultimate Team.”  EA’s CFO, Andrew Wilson stated that the loot boxes in FIFA are not a form of 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’re working with all the industry associations globally and with regulators in various jurisdictions and territories, [and] have established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling,” said Wilson (Ars Technica)

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Example of FIFA Card Pack

EA recently announced the odds of earning certain cards in July but some fan spent over $10,000 on developing his ultimate FIFA team. EA could potentially be sued by the Belgian government. There are penalties of up to €800,000 and five years in prison, which can be doubled if “minors are involved.” Considering that FIFA is rated E for everyone, the lawsuit could be a major loss in EA’s massive wallet. Whether Belgium will sue remains to be seen.

Sources:

Ars Technica

Rock Paper Shotgun – EA Odds

Eurogamer

 

 

Video Game Loot Boxes deemed as gambling in Belgium

This year, governments and countries around the world have been evaluating loot boxes in video games. Discouraged by Gamers, it has become an infamous growth in revenue for video games. Many mobile games and online video games have added loot boxes as a system. Some governments are considering loot boxes as a form of gambling because users rely on chance to earn good in-game items. Recently, the Belgian Gaming Commision has declared randomized loot boxes as a “game of chance” in 3 games: Overwatch, CS: GO, and FIFA

Repercussions

The Belgian Gaming Commission stated the “games don’t disclose the odds of receiving specific in-game items.” The three games must remove their loot boxes or be in criminal violation of the country’s gaming legislation. The fine is €800,000 and five years in prison for the operators. Clarification on who would face the consequences in the company remains to be determined. If the loot boxes affect minors, the punishment is doubled.

What happens next?

Minister of Justice Koen Geens wants to work with the gaming companies, developers, operators and the Belgian Gaming Commission to determine who should be punished for loot boxes. Belgium is one of the first countries that took a stance against loot boxes in games during the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 controversy. Hawaii, Washington D.C. and several countries are trying to create laws to limit the purchase of loot boxes in games.

Sources:

Koen Geens – Minister of Justice

Arstechnica