EA cuts sale of FIFA currency in Belgium in ongoing lootbox legal conflict

    
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Remember back in 2018 when Belgium cracked down on gambleboxes in video games, zeroing in on Overwatch, FIFA 18, and CSGO and ordering them to come into compliance with its gambling laws or face prison and fines? Blizzard and Valve dragged their feet and complained a bit, but they did it, ultimately ending lockboxes purchases for players in the region. Multiple developers who’d not been directly threatened also moved to comply with the law, including one squarely in our genre: ArenaNet.

But EA didn’t appear to take any action over the course of the next six months, so Belgium moved to make good on its threat, as the public prosecutor’s office in Brussels began working on a criminal investigation of EA over the situation. It seemed as if EA was preparing to fight. But then it blinked. Just a few weeks after that, it promised to “begin displaying pack probabilities” in FIFA (pretty much like transparent lockboxes).

Now it’s gone further. As GIbiz reports, the company says it will cease the sale of FIFA Points in Belgium altogether. Apparently, players will be able to continue earning points through playing the game, but they can’t buy them to swap for lockboxes.

“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,” EA stated. “The impact of this change to FIFA Ultimate Team in Belgium is not material to our financial performance.”

MMO players will recall that Blizzard made a similar statement when bowing to the law in regard for Overwatch. Without the shade for Belgium, though.

Source: GIbiz
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donvweel

EA has put a lot of weight on cash shop lootbox sales and pushed it on all their studios even killing games lacking that model. How is that working out?
https://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/ea/stock-chart

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MrNastyButler

Good.

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rosieposie

One could even say that EA got crushed at Waterloo.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

lootbox for a soccer game… you learn something new everyday.

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Khalith .

Hopefully this is the start of a trend.

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xanadox

Well, as belgium kids can legally buy elsewhere in EU, they should ban the lootboxes in all EU .

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Nathan Aldana

watching EA act like a petulant child and disable it without doing a thing to rebalance the game for belgian players, making their play experience worse in the process, is such a corporate ceo thing to do.

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Arktouros

Why would you invest more development time on a region that is now providing you less revenue?

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Nathan Aldana

because not doing it makes you loot like a petulant child who will just punish belgian players for daring to not burn their government down in service to EA

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Arktouros

And the rest of the companies? Blizzard? Valve? Arena Net? Pearl Abyss? All the others who pulled lockbox or gambling mechanics from Belgium based players without at all changing their games. Are they all “petulant children?”

No. Because no one is petulant. No one is vindictive. No one is vengeful. It’s just business. The only childish thing going on here is someone expecting a company who, eventually, conformed with the law to go above and beyond and change the game as well out of the kindness of their hearts.

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Jack Pipsam

Heh.

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PanagiotisLial1

Lockboxes in a footy? where is the world heading to? I mean what they add even, different colored balls?

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Schmidt.Capela

Pay to win, actually. You get new, and often better, players to use in your team for the online Ultimate Team mode.

It also predates most of the better known lootboxes. In fact, SWBF2’s lootbox model, which sparked so much controversy around the world, was an attempt by EA to put the already successful lootbox model used in FIFA into other games.

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Nathan Aldana

basically, you can get cards that give you super-powerful versions of the players, with the most famous and overpowered versions like say, the top tier Ronaldo card, being so rare that a dude last year tried buying 1500 dollars worth of lockboxes to see what he got (it was a legiotimate statistics experiment at that, using university grant money to carry it out FOR SCIENCE) and he got..well..99.9999999% junk

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Anstalt

From a PR sense, EA isn’t allowed to agree with the Belgium authorities.

Because if EA did agree, they’d have to admit that they have deliberately targetted children with gambling in order to make money. The implications of admiting that would be massive, including the resignations of a lot of upper management and a dramatic decrease in stock price.

So, EA will continue to deny it’s unethical business practices for as long as possible

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Arktouros

ArenaNet isn’t only MMO developer to stop sales for lockboxes in Belgium. For example on BDO now any RNG result items such as the pet boxes say they aren’t for sale in Belgium.

To which I still laugh tremendously at over all. The solution isn’t to change your practices or business strategy, it’s just to write off the country.

Veldan
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Veldan

That just means more countries need to follow, until they’re too many to simply write off…

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Arktouros

Well Belgium basically has no skin in the game. Their population is roughly that of Ohio and the number of game developers who base themselves out of Belgium is relatively small and none of them really in markets where lockboxes would be a hefty source of their revenue. So Belgium isn’t really hurting Belgium by implementing a law like this. However other countries who do have game developers, do have games with lockbox based revenue, it’s not so easy to just roll over on them. You see this especially in Asian countries where despite the large number of restrictions they have or are discussing the companies themselves are still given a large amount of latitude because of the sheer volume of income they bring in for their respective countries. They can still get slapped for sure as we saw with the fines for misleading percentages but no one wants to basically ruin a good thing.