None of the FIFA titles is a pure MMO, of course, but every MMO player interested in how monetization across the industry is being shaped will recall how legal cases around the game keep poking their way into our narrative, from that time when the FBI caught FIFA hackers making millions to the time when dudes running an illegal gambling ring using FIFA currency were busted under the UK’s gambling act. And who can forget when Belgium threatened multiple game companies with criminal investigations over their noncompliance with Belgium’s gambling laws in regard to lootboxes?
Yes, this is a lootbox piece. Though some companies, like Square-Enix and Blizzard, did eventually comply with Belgium’s law, others, like EA, dragged their feet, and countries across Europe continue skirmishes over this particular type of monetization. As Kotaku reported yesterday, new lawsuits have now been filed in France specifically accusing EA’s FIFA franchise of hosting illegal gambling within the game in its “Ultimate Team” mode.
Lawyers representing the suit argue that paying to gamble for card packs for players determines whether or not you can win in the mode. At least one of the plaintiffs apparently spent €600 trying to get key players – the grossest type of pay-to-win around.
“In this game, everyone wants to have a dream team to go as far as possible. My client spent €600 in five months without ever getting a big player. The developers of this game mode have created an illusionary and particularly addictive system. The more you pay, the more you have the possibility of getting big players. We believe that a gambling game has been integrated into this video game because buying packs is nothing more than a bet. It is the logic of a casino that has entered their homes. Today, an 11 or 12-year-old teenager can, without any restriction, play FUT and commit money because there is no parental control system in this mode. Belgium and the Netherlands have already taken up this issue.”
Interestingly, as L’Équipe notes, the suits also seek data on the specific algorithm that determines how those cards are dispensed.