Electronic Arts Could Face Legal Battle in Belgium Due to FIFA’s Loot Boxes

EA's refusal to remove their loot box system from FIFA 18 has led to a criminal investigation in Belgium, where loot boxes were declared illegal.

on September 11, 2018 10:41 AM

While game companies 2K, Valve, and Blizzard have turned off loot boxes in Belgium after the Belgian Gaming Commission determined them to be an “illegal game of chance” back in April, EA has not followed suit with FIFA 18. Dutch outlet publication Nieuwsblad reports that as a result, the Gaming Commission is seeking action from Belgian prosecutors against EA.

Back in May, EA CEO Andrew Wilson pushed back on the ruling regarding loot boxes, justifying their system by mentioning that a set number of items are always included in every loot box and that these items cannot be cashed out for real-life currency. EA has long been embroiled in the loot box controversy, most notably with Star Wars Battlefront II.

Peter Naessens of the Belgian Gaming Commission disputed Wilson’s justification; contrasting video game loot boxes with Panini football stickers, a cultural staple of the World Cup, Naessens points out that the Panini prints out as many stickers as there are players, with no tiers of rarity that loot boxes have. If Brussels’ public prosecutor’s office decides to move forward, the case may end up going to court. Should the office rule in favor of EA, the Gaming Commission may sue to change the gambling legislation to better tackle the issue.

The Belgian government has been targeting loot boxes since last year, with the Belgian Gaming Commission considering them a form of gambling. No word yet on whether or not EA Sports still considers their model to be “sustainable.”

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Chris is a writer based in the Philadelphia area with their eyes set on New York City. They are currently writing for film website Flixist, podcasting for Marvel News Desk, and was an editorial intern for Paste Magazine's gaming section. They graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a creative writing major.