EA To Stop Selling FIFA Points In Belgium Following Legal Pressure
Belgium found loot boxes to go against its gambling laws in the first part of last year and publishers such as Valve, Blizzard and 2K Games were quick to react.
While problematic elements from games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and NBA 2K were removed in Belgium, EA initially intended to go to court, in order to challenge the decision. It looks like priorities have shifted in the meantime.
Back in September last year the Belgian Gambling Commission started a pre-trial investigation of loot boxes in FIFA 19 following a crackdown of loot boxes in general across video games, and despite EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson saying he doesn’t believe that “FIFA Ultimate Team or loot boxes are gambling”, a new post on EA site reveals big changes for Belgian players.
FIFA Points are a type of currency that can be earned in-game by playing FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) or purchased with real-world money. They are used to buy card packs that contain players to build a team with. Due to the randomized nature of these card packs, FIFA was actively in breach of Belgium’s law against loot boxes that was introduced in September, 2018, and required to make adjustments.
Players who still happen to have FIFA Points tied to their accounts will be able to spend them even after Jan. 31, while Coins continue to be usable for purchases on the in-game transfer market.
EA Said in statement:
“While we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities’ interpretation of the law, and we will continue to seek more clarity on the matter as we go forward”
Last year, EA came out strongly in saying it didn’t believe loot boxes were a form of gambling. In April it said its game were “developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world” and it did not agree its games could “be considered as any form of gambling.” This, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said in May, was because “players always receive a specified number of items in each pack” and because it doesn’t “provide or authorise any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money”.
EA has apologised for the inconvenience, reassuring Belgian players that they will be able to access FUT without the micro-transactions. Those with FIFA Points still on their account will be able to use the remainder until the wallet is depleted, but won’t be able to purchase any more.