The BGC earlier this year labeled loot boxes in video games as a form of gambling under the Gaming and Betting Act of 1999. The past few months have seen many high profile titles, from Blizzard’s Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, remove or disable loot box purchases from the games in Belgium. Last week, NBA 2k19 was another title that complied with the new restrictions but saw publisher 2K ask fans to contact government representatives to show support for loot boxes.
EA has been the lone standout from the controversy, arguably the reason this began due to the massive conflict between the publisher and fans of Star Wars: Battlefront II. Off of the heels of the controversy, the BGC weighed in on the subject for months before making a final decision to ban the use of loot boxes through the GBA.
The BGC is targeting the upcoming releases of FIFA 19, along with FIFA 18, claiming that the two games use of their Ultimate Team Mode’s randomized card parks violates the law. As of today, the card packs are still available in FIFA 18, and EA has given little indication that the feature in Ultimate Team Mode would be removed in FIFA 19.
Instead, it was confirmed in their quarterly conference call that FIFA 19 will give players statistical drop rates for packs in FIFA 19. EA Sports VP Daryl Holt, in speaking with Gameindustrybiz in June, noted that the changes going forward will help players have a better understanding of their live service models, along with a way to implement feedback for the rest of EA going forward.
“They’re given the choice on how they want to compete. I can earn things in FIFA Ultimate Team just by playing the game, at whatever tier I want to play at, said Holt. “I can also beat you if you have a better-rated team because I’m better than you at FIFA. I don’t worry about what my rating is as a team… That aspect of choice and how we engage with EA Sports is a very different aspect with how we look at the controversy that came up around Battlefront.”
EA has thus far not responded to the allegations of the BGC, and no official charges have been filed at this time. If the charges to go through, it will be the first challenge to the new mandates by the BGC from the video game world. Other European Commissions, from the UK to Denmark, have also weighed in on the legality of loot boxes and their ties to gambling. Only the UK Gambling Commission has made a previous ruling, stating that loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling in the UK.
What are your thoughts on all of this? Does EA have a case? Will the BGC take them to court? Leave your comments below.