A country and a creator of annual soccer/football video games are butting heads in the legal field of battle. Due to a failure to comply with Belgian gambling laws, EA Sports is now the target of a criminal investigation.
Back in April, Belgium passed laws that made loot boxes a type of gambling. As part of the law, they required Belgian versions of games remove their loot boxes. Companies like 2K Games, Blizzard, and Valve complied with these new laws. However, EA Sports, publishers of the annual FIFA series of soccer/football video games, did not modify the randomized card pack loot boxes in FIFA 18 and 19. Coincidentally, FIFA 18 was one of the games examined during Belgium’s debate on loot boxes.
An article posted by the Belgian publication Metro (translated via Google Chrome) said:
At the end of August game developer Blizzard stopped at the request of the Commission in our country with the sale of ‘loot boxes’ in the games Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm and previously developers told Valve and 2K Games ‘loot boxes’ no longer against real money to offer. Only the fourth big player, EA, does not want to give in.
Topman Andrew Wilson of EA emphasized not to stop the ‘loot boxes’ for the summer. Also in FIFA 19, which ends at the end of this month, it will be possible to buy treasure boxes. According to Wilson, it is not about gambling, because players know exactly how many objects they get.
If the Brussels public prosecutor’s office decides to prosecute, the case will go to court. Back in May, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that they’re working with industry associations globally and don’t believe that the card packs in their games are gambling. His reasoning is because players always get the same amount of items in each pack and the game doesn’t offer any way to cash out or trade virtual items or currency for real money.
If found guilty, Belgian law states that the publishers could face up to a five year prison sentence and a fine of 800,000 euros.
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