Electronic Arts Stops Selling FIFA Points In Belgium Amid Lootbox Legal Controversy
After months of dragging their feet, Electronic Arts has finally decided to abide by the Belgian Gaming Commission’s ruling against lootboxes. In a statement on EA’s official site, the publisher announced that they will cease selling premium FIFA Points in Belgium by the end of the month.
“After further discussions with the Belgian authorities, we have decided to stop offering FIFA Points for sale in Belgium. We’re working to make these changes effective in our FIFA console and PC games by January 31, 2019. This means that players in Belgium will not be able to purchase points to obtain FIFA Ultimate Team packs. Players still can access Ultimate Team and play with their existing players. All content in the game can be earned through gameplay, as has always been the case, and players can continue to use coins and the in-game transfer market. Any players in Belgium that have existing FIFA Points in their accounts can continue to use them, but they will not be able to purchase more. We apologize to our players in Belgium for any inconvenience caused by this change.”
Belgian authorities cracked down on loot boxes in May last year by enacting anti-gambling legislation that essentially made them illegal. The Belgian Gaming Commission threatened legal action against games that made heavy use of lootboxes, specifically Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and FIFA 2018. Blizzard Entertainment and Valve quickly moved to comply with the new law, along with other affected developers, including Square Enix and ArenaNet. EA, on the other hand, stood their ground and looked to be ready to go to court. But, it seems that they’ve had a sudden change of heart.
EA’s compliance, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree with the ruling. “We seek to bring choice, fairness, value and fun to our players in all our games. 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,” says EA. “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.”
What this means for EA's other lootbox-oriented games remains to be seen. What do you think of the whole lootbox hullabaloo? Let us know in the comments section below.