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EA Submits to Pressure and Removes Fifa Points in Belgium

by Glenn Baird - January 30, 2019

For a while there things had gone quiet on the whole loot box controversy front. The second half of 2018 was a battleground for those sitting on the 2 sides of the argument, with news articles filling Twitter feeds about the pros and cons of different forms of gaming prize crates. The big question was and still is, are loot boxes gambling?

In September last year Belgian authorities decided that loot boxes are a form of gambling, well sort of. They joined their Dutch counterparts, calling for a ban on the purchase of virtual currencies that could be used to buy up loot boxes. This means that the boxes still exist, it is just that in Belgium and the Netherlands you have to earn them through game play and virtual graft.

This means that in Belgium you can no longer pay to gain an advantage in the highly competitive world of Fifa Ultimate Team. For those who don’t know, Fifa release new player packs each week based on real life footballing performances. These come out on a Wednesday and then a scramble ensues to grab the best players before the weekend’s tournaments begin. Essentially, Belgian players will now find themselves at a disadvantage in these tournaments.

EA had originally stated that they would not comply with the new laws but appear to have finally conceded defeat over the matter. In response to the new rules that will come into place at the end of the month EA have released the following statement:

“In addition to providing players options in how they play, we include pack probabilities in our games for the transparency players want to make informed content choices. 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. The impact of this change to FIFA Ultimate Team in Belgium is not material to our financial performance.”

For anyone who thought that the controversy surrounding loot boxes had disappeared be prepared for fresh debates throughout 2019, as steps increase to protect young people from gambling.

The question now is how many other countries will follow in Belgian footsteps?