Judge enforces a Dutch government order for EA to remove FIFA lockboxes or face over $11M in fines

    
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Judge enforces a Dutch government order for EA to remove FIFA lockboxes or face over $11M in fines

This has been a long and drawn-out battle, so let us review: Back in 2017 when the outrage against lockboxes was at its highest point after EA’s flagrant cash grab in Star Wars Battlefront II, the gambling authorities of Belgium and the Netherlands were leading the charge against the practice, outright labeling the scheme as gambling and therefore illegal. That led to an order for companies to remove lockboxes from games, including EA and its FIFA titles, or face fines. EA refused to comply, however, leading to criminal investigations from both countries, which ultimately led to EA first displaying lockbox odds and then ending the sale of FIFA points in Belgium altogether.

This brings us to the most recent development, which sees a Netherlands District Court siding with the Dutch government and upholding weekly fines of €250K (just over $292K USD) against both EA and its satellite office EA Swiss Sàrl, up to a total of €10M (over $11M USD) until FIFA lockboxes are removed from the series entirely.

Naturally, EA is ready to appeal, saying the company is “disappointed by this decision and what it may mean for our Dutch community.” Furthermore, EA seems keen to keep its mechanic in place while abiding by Dutch gambling laws, saying, “Electronic Arts is deeply committed to positive play. We seek to bring choice, fairness, value and fun to all our players in all of our games. We remain open to discussions with the Netherlands Gambling Authority and other stakeholders to understand and explore solutions to address any concerns.”

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Zero_1_Zerum

EA, why do you keep giving me good reasons to hate you and boycott your games?

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I wonder when ‘cost of doing business’ is too high from the amount you lose, while trying to take from others…

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Heh. The more visibility on this the better. I hope EA bites down hard and appeals this ruling through the courts in Netherlands and shines a bright light on their predatory ways and means.

Their veiled threat was priceless. Lol!

The beauty of this is that other nations watching will continue to look at this. Don’t forget, laws can be changed. EA better remember that because hiding behind their definition of gambling will soon not be enough.

Love the olive branch to the Netherlands Gambling Authority. LOL!

Another domino drops… Good stuff.

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texyFX

evil monetisation methods exploiting the most weak (and their parents balance) and blocking already paid content (as the game was bought?) from the reasonable rest.
lootboxes r evil.

April-Rain
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Kickstarter Donor
April-Rain

This has been linked to a increase in problematic gambling in the UK on young adults and people still under the age of 18. I for one wish my country would do the same. Gambling should not be in any game aimed at children and this piece of shit company should be fined out of existence.

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Arktouros

No such study has been conducted. It was recommended by various Doctors when they did their big lootbox inquisition (the “surprise mechanics” one) that such a study take place to discover if there is a link between problematic gambling and loot boxes. Most underage gambling in the UK occurs entirely non-game related enabled by locations that don’t check ages or more commonly in unofficial locations (IE: A group of friends).

The UK stuff is very tricky because it’s all surveys that then have papers/theories written based on the survey results that then reference one another as studies but no actual changes in behavior were ever studied.

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Schmidt.Capela

Interestingly, EA argued this too. The courts rejected it because, as they told EA, Netherlands laws consider that games of chance are intrinsically prone to causing gambling addiction, so there is no need to prove that a new kind of game of chance can cause addiction before restricting or regulating it.

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Loyal Patron
Schlag Sweetleaf

.

dutch trEAt.gif
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Utakata

“…disappointed by this decision and what it may mean for our Dutch community.”

I’m pretty sure the Dutch community isn’t based around lewtboxes. Just saying.

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Rndomuser

This is disappointing and hopefully this will not be applied to other games. Responsible adults should have a right to pay real life money for these kind of activities as long as the game will display proper warning about rewards not being guaranteed. As for children and other persons who cannot comprehend the fact that they have low chance of winning some reward or may have access to someone else’s money to spend on such gambling instead of using their own – this should not be the game developer’s problem, this should be the problem of legal guardians of those irresponsible people and game developers should not be punished for this provided that there is a sufficient warning before each purchase of the item which does not guarantee receiving a reward and provided that there is a sufficient protection against accidental purchases.

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Schmidt.Capela

It has already been applied to other games in the Netherlands. About two years ago, in fact. EA is the target of this legal proceeding due to being the one outlier in trying to defy the Netherlands Gambling Authority in the first place (and in the process creating legal precedent that lootboxes can indeed be considered gambling and thus strengthening the Netherlands Gambling Authority position).

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Rndomuser

It has already been applied to other games in the Netherlands.

That’s unfortunate. Luckily I don’t live there and hopefully this kind of law won’t spread across other countries and won’t be extended to other things other people might think would be “wrong to see in games”.

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Schmidt.Capela

That’s not some new kind of law, just a different way of interpreting gambling laws. Which, BTW, exist in just about every country, as well as every US state.

In fact, there’s an ongoing lawsuit against EA in California that could cause lootboxes to be legally classified as gambling in the state.

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Bruno Brito

I’m actually ok with my government having customer protection laws and defending my interests even if i don’t ask.

That being said, i’m well aware that any kind of penalty will just be footed by their players, not the company.

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Rndomuser

I’m actually ok with my government having customer protection laws and defending my interests even if i don’t ask.

So you’re ok with government “defending your own interests” above all else, including restricting the choice for other people even if it has no direct negative impact on you? Do you also believe that government should outright ban any kind of consumption of alcohol for everyone (no, I don’t personally drink any alcoholic drinks), as well as consumption of any kind of potentially addictive substance (certain plant-derived substances) or unhealthy food or other things (for example erotica/pornography of ANY kind), just because you personally might dislike that others are allowed to have an option to enjoy consuming those in a responsible way, even if their enjoyment (in a responsible way) has no direct negative impact on you? Please correct me if I did not understand what you said, because if this is what you actually meant – this is a very selfish and, well, very disappointing way at looking at things.

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Schmidt.Capela

Where I live, at least, alcohol of any kind, potentially addictive substances, and pornography are all prohibited for everyone younger than 18. Gambling too. And for three of the four I’m completely confident that is the right call.

Which, mind, is what I would like to happen to lootboxes too: ban them for all players younger than 18.

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Bruno Brito

Again: US citizens have this misconception that the world should function like their country does. It shouldn’t. It won’t. And this imperialistic point of view is taxing and irritating.

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Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

Games started as pay X to own the game and play it as much as you want. Things started to get bad slowly with the ‘horse’ DLC in elder scrolls and it just went bad from there. The line shouldve been drawn there but companies keep pushing the line in the name of making unlimited profit.

NO product should have the capability of making unlimited profit per piece bought, something digital items have an advantage over real life products. The fact people can spend thousands on these games is so evil no sane person can defend it.

There needs to be pushback from everyone, not just the governing bodies, to return gaming to the proper economic model. Pay x for a product and own it. No more double dipping with lockboxes, gacha systems, cosmetics, or paying for cheats.

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Bruno Brito

this is a very selfish and, well, very disappointing way at looking at things.

No. It isn’t. And just because americans think their way of running things works for the entire world, doesn’t mean it does.

Brazil bans nazi speech. You can’t be a sympathizer here, or you get arrested. Any kind of apology gets you in bad terms with the law ( altho, it’s more maleable than that, it must be a tangible sympathy ).

Ask me if i find that bad, and i’ll say i won’t. I don’t really care for the opinions of neo-nazis, nor in any moment in my life did i care for the “incredible discourse” we were losing by not allowing them to be part of it.

You also fall in the common trappings of thinking that having laws that protect you from corporate overreach means your country gets to treat you like a pack mule. It doesn’t.

Do you also believe that government should outright ban any kind

I believe that the US government should do a disarming policy and get rid of guns yesterday. Whatever seems to be your feelings on the matter, being completely out of control with guns, pornography, alcohol and such made the US a country that is always on the brink of self-annihilation.

So, while i don’t believe the government should’t ban anything for adults, i also don’t believe that a nation of well-meant individuals actively care for any of those things.

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McGuffn

You make some good points. I want to state for the record that I am in favor of allowing children to gamble for the chance to win alcohol and cocaine. Those would be the jackpot winnings. Lesser prizes could be a book of matches or a dirty needle.

Edit: If the state administers this via the lottery all the proceeds could go to K-12 schools and maybe afterschool programs to keep kids out of trouble.

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Rndomuser

You make some good points. I want to state for the record that I am in favor of allowing children to gamble for the chance to win alcohol and cocaine.

I have NEVER advocated for children or any adult person who cannot responsibly handle the dangerous substances to have access to those, especially cocaine (something I didn’t even mention). If you are unable to comprehend what I actually meant – please stop replying with your nonsense or idiotic attempts at “jokes” or whatever you’re doing with replies like that. These are not appreciated and I would rather not see them in my email (sadly I cannot block people who post nonsense like that so all I can is disable all notifications from Massively which I would rather not do).

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McGuffn

Cocaine is a certain plant derived substance though?

I have a libertarian streak too but it’s easy to take it too far. I understand what you meant but I just don’t think people who say things like this actually believe them. I’m pretty certain you don’t think ANY pornography is acceptable if you want another example.

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Bruno Brito

Imagine wanting the government to actively fiscalize corporate abuse of propaganda towards more vulnerable slices of the populace, you know, doing what the government was made to do: Protect people?

I’m so selfish for wanting government to be more than libertarian jackoffs getting elected and then doing absolutely jackshit because hey, what the fuck is a minimal state idiot doing on a state job? Wasting my fucking money, that is.

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Bruno Brito

disappointed by this decision and what it may mean for our Dutch community.”

I hope whoever thought of that sentence gets *****.

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Bruno Brito

Whoever moderated my comment only made it worse :D

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Kickstarter Donor
squid

I, too, hope that whoever thought of that sentence gets pizza.

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Bruno Brito

I hope it’s expired pizza.

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Kross Vilalobos

Not gonna lie this made me laugh more than it should have and I got some looks from people. xD

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Bruno Brito

It was originally “punched”.

This is my favourite kind of moderation.

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Evasive Dice

EA said “what it may mean for our Dutch community”

Ok really? That’s foreshadowing. So you didn’t get your way. A government took a hard stance in that region against you milking players and you say THAT in response? So your going to just shun the Dutch players who love your games because you couldn’t milk them? Sounds to me like if you can’t sell them loot boxes then your going to stop selling your product there.

THIS, is EA’s true intent. To sell you a game and continue to milk you. There are a ton of games where you can still just buy the damn game for 60$ and because people genuinely enjoy it, copies continue to sell. But no, EA wants to push a product and then Continue for you to pay for the product past the base price. These are not cosmetics, characters, guaranteed things etc. these are LOOT boxes. The scummiest cash grab you can do that preys on gambling addictions and a sense of obligation get it because there would be no other means to get it. It’s predatory.

I hope they start enforcing this in America soon. I’m going to get full satisfaction watching big companies crumble or change to respectable methods.

(I’ve actually spent more on free to play games with fair models then triple A games)

Make a good game, the extra money will come. Milk your players and well…..stuff like this Dutch judge happens. I think in the next 10 years well get back on track as more governments keep taking a hard stance on this stuff getting out of hand.

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Arktouros

There’s nothing to enforce in America because America doesn’t have anything against this kind of business model.

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Evasive Dice

I was saying I can’t wait until it does. Sorry I probably should have elaborated. I can’t wait “until they can” here. I’m seeing alot more governments overseas fall in line and crack down. We’re in a pandemic and the economy is shit. So I won’t be surprised if we get some new laws writ up to crack down on these sort of practices, this just messes the economy up even more.

We’re definitely a comfortable country but the goverment will end up reigning this in because of the pandemic and crack down on shady money making. We’re just going to be one of the last ones to undergo this. On the lootbox situation games are doing.

We’re comfortable but money is getting tight like else where.

In the next 2-5 years your going to see alot of big franchises either closing out or changing drastically. Bet on it. Here at least.

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Arktouros

Honestly there’s zero historical or factual basis for anything you just predicted.

If we look at the past history of our country and the economic laws and policies we tend to design and create a vast majority of them are not designed with the benefit or protection of the people in mind. In fact in recent decades most laws are largely designed to benefit corporations over people. You can pretty much look at just about any field and see this is the case. Most of our economic policies and laws are based on measuring corporations for prosperity over people so the idea they would create additional restrictions on corporations that would limit their prosperity seems exceedingly optimistic.

Money is certainly tight for unfortunate families during these trying times if anything that’s a sign that something like this is less likely to be tackled. Being concerned over optional payment systems in what is a luxury product while people are struggling to pay rent or feed their families is like super beyond tone deaf of the struggles people are having. There are other more politicized examples as well that we could bring up and show at resistance to such a measure but I’ll avoid this for the sake of Bree’s sanity :)

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Evasive Dice

Sweet summer child.

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Bruno Brito

The US was founded on right-wing philosophy, it was kept by right-wing philosophy, and the two biggest parties, historically and right now, are right-wing.

Ark is completely right here, and any look at how legislation is passed in the US will show you that corporations have become stronger as time went by, not weaker.

“Sweet summer child”.

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Evasive Dice

The current way of things didn’t have a pandemic killing people 3 times faster then world war 2 (as it’s officially been posted). The entire argument is that things will change because the corner of economics, are hinged on this pandemic, my main argument. We have adopted a new child :]

Gaming will change for a fact. Better or worse. Alot of COMMENTS here are probably not keeping up with politics and the current pandemic.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory

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Bruno Brito

The current way of things didn’t have a pandemic killing people 3 times faster then world war 2 (as it’s officially been posted).

Irrelevant.

The entire argument is that things will change because the corner of economics, are hinged on this pandemic, my main argument. We have adopted a new child :]

That’s not even what’s being discussed here.

Gaming will change for a fact. Better or worse.

None of which are confirming anything you say. Nor do we even know is this enforcement will be for the better or worse. I’m all for it, but i won’t pretend it can’t have setbacks.

Alot of COMMENTS here are probably not keeping up with politics and the current pandemic.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory

Or maybe a lot of the comments here are just aware that the pandemic has an effect but not as much as you think. The pandemic has little to no effect on the morality of lockboxes, and while it’ll have some financial impact because of people being unstable with their pay while under quarentine, that won’t be enough to change the fact that lockboxes are highly profitable and safe for companies. And will stay that way.

And whatever hope you have from dutch regulation to make here, it’s 99% chance of being dashed. The US doesn’t operate like EU countries, and it probably will stay that way. You guys are still debating the concept of public healthcare while under a deadly pandemic. For someone that is accusing us of being shortsighted, you seem to be pretty oblivious to how dated the US is when talking about social projects.

Get a teacher for that child.

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Evasive Dice

Its crazy. Im 67 years old and kids are still rebelling. Well. Let’s just see what happens? Let’s not take the word of someone who has been around before you were born. Let’s just self indulge and make ourselves feel better Bruno.

((Edited by mod. Guys come on, chill out, read the dang commenting code and play nice please?))

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Arktouros

If you’re 67 years old I have to say I admire keeping your optimism after all these years. My experience has been nothing but a system that has been rigged for corporations and we’ve seen nothing but regulation after regulation rolled back on them decade after decade. People of your generation who were still riding the tail end of the populist uprising of the late 1800’s early 1900’s into the 60’s have no idea about the sheer hopelessness of the current system from even a middle aged person’s perspective.

There’s nothing in recent history that shows any sign that change to economic policies such as going after corporations for predatory business tactics. You keep saying that the pandemic is going to be a catalyst for everything changing, but in fact most of the economic assistance that we, in America, provided actually went to those same corporations with zero accountability. Billionaires saw their worth grow tremendously under this pandemic and all that wealth has never had a larger impact on policy and lawmaking since the Gilded Age.

There are no facts that back up to your optimistic view. The corporations create policies. There’s zero accountability Even then what you fail to grasp is that even if you could somehow wave a magic wand and ban loot boxes it will fix nothing. As Mark Jacobs and I were discussing below there’s innumerable other predatory business methods they can and will adopt if push come to shove that are harder to legislate without destroying the entire game industry which no politician is going to do.

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Bruno Brito

here’s innumerable other predatory business methods they can and will adopt if push come to shove that are harder to legislate without destroying the entire game industry which no politician is going to do.

Increasing the prices if they lose lockboxes is the most obvious.

People of your generation who were still riding the tail end of the populist uprising of the late 1800’s early 1900’s into the 60’s have no idea about the sheer hopelessness of the current system from even a middle aged person’s perspective.

*chef’s kiss*

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Schmidt.Capela

One of the fears of certain right-wing thinkers is that progressive policies — such as universal and free healthcare, heftier society safety nets, etc — often result in speedier recoveries after a big crisis. This will put countries that don’t have such policies and refuse to implement them at a competitive disadvantage in the post-COVID recovery and could shift global public opinion to the left for the next few decades.

AFAIK something similar happened after the Great Depression. It took conservatives about half a century to get back to where they were in the 20s.

Though, of course, the global order will already have been changed by how each country handled the COVID crisis. Countries that botched it, such as US and Brazil, will lose in importance, while countries that nailed it, such as New Zealand and China, are bound to emerge stronger.

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Bruno Brito

Countries that botched it, such as US and Brazil, will lose in importance, while countries that nailed it, such as New Zealand and China, are bound to emerge stronger.

Totally.

Why this is being argued on a topic about lockboxes, i don’t know.

I think our Evasive Dice friend is also evading staying on topic, because considering the damage that the pandemic will do towards our hobbies in general, the most safe practices will stay and will be strenghtened to keep companies “afloat” ( or that’s what they’ll say”. So, lockboxes, as Ark correctly put it, for being safe enough, will stay.

Not everyone who buys lockboxes are addicted or kids. A lot of them are just people who have a budget every month for their favourite game and support it like that. Those are the people who keep lockboxes afloat, not the extremely addicted.

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Arktouros

Yea that pretty much sums up your super naive view of things pretty well. Again we have lots of precedent here to basically lean on that show you’re wrong. It’s kinda on you to present examples that back up your statements.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

“I’ll avoid this for the sake of Bree’s sanity :)”

You say that like I have any left. It’s 2020, we’re down to raw bone.

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Schmidt.Capela

I’m still expecting to some day before the end of the year look at the sky and see Godzilla’s health bar.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

On some level, it would be a blessing. :P

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Arktouros

You say that like I have any left. It’s 2020, we’re down to raw bone.

Lets just say I think our politicians will address economic issues and predatory video game business practices in the same way they addressed gun control after all the mass shootings, healthcare during a pandemic, and all our pointless military forays reigned in the military spending.

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Bruno Brito

You need to be at least 67 years old to ride the “know something” ride, Ark.

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Arktouros

It’s pretty crazy that anyone would use age for a qualifier as their opinion is unassailable. Even ignoring the fact no one generally knows anything about anyone around here (I could be 70+ for all they know) it’s not like we can’t know basic history. Simply put the history is not kind to their argument or optimism. I think we’ll eventually be due for another populist uprising at some point in the next 10-20 years but we’re just not there yet and no one is going to give a shit about video game monetization strategies when it happens.

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Bruno Brito

I don’t know if time goes slower for older people, but it doesn’t take much time to do significant change when that change is actively looked for. When MMO companies wanted to monetize MMOs heavily, they made it happen, and it didn’t took long.

It doesn’t take 10 years to make change, specially in this day and age. Being old doesn’t mean anything anymore.

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Hurbster

Er, lads. Comments could be construed as leaning towards the bullying side. Just saying.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, sorry. I had to read an entire badly formatted essay on why i don’t know anything and why i need to have 67 years to know something. It was disrespectful, it was offensive, and i have absolutely no obligation to respect or recognize someone who has his head so far up his ass that he thinks anyone else here is wrong and he’s right.

So, consider this me punching my bully several times on his idiot-ridden face.

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Hurbster

Right, still bullying though.

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Bruno Brito

And i care why?

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Hurbster

Hey, it’s cool. I recognize the fact you have your ‘internet tough guy persona’ to maintain.

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Schmidt.Capela

There might actually be. There’s an ongoing lawsuit against EA in California, saying that the packs (lootboxes) in FIFA amount to illegal gambling — and due to how California defines “thing of value” for the purposes of defining gambling there’s an actual chance EA might lose.

EA is also fighting off a similar lawsuit in Canada.

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Arktouros

It’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds but we also know EA has basically infinite money to appeal things up as high as they need to be. I wouldn’t be counting my chickens before they hatch on it anymore than I would on the Hawley legislation. Findings can wildly vary court to court.

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Evasive Dice

No matter the money. If the government escalates it enough. Then the law is the law. There are tons of situations where money prevailed but EA is fighting the word of government laws now. On a large scale

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Bruno Brito

Lobbying makes sure that most of these issues won’t even see a court of law. You’re trusting too much the letter, and forgetting that there’s a practical path that requires walking, and several roadblocks that companies can put in place.

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Arktouros

It’s fighting people who are suing them over the letter of the law. If they win then that would require the laws to be changed to address their scenario, which with money’s influence in politics it’s very easy to see a scenario where it’s simply not an issue.

Also it’s not a large scale, at all, but we heard the same rhetoric out of the people who said that Belgium/Netherlands are “the heart” of EU law and if Belgium outlawed lootboxes the dominoes would fall and they’d be banned in the EU. Still waiting for those dominoes to keep falling.

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Bruno Brito

I only see lockboxes being banned with a major effort that actively undermines the bottom line of companies. Small countries won’t be that effect. They just won’t.

While i don’t think EA just not doing business with the dutch populace is any real damage because…eh, it’s EA, pretending that the dutch government has any power in how EA will operate is just laughably naive.

There are two things that can happen: 1- They just go away and whatever the dutch players. Or 2- they stop selling lockboxes and just foot the bill for any other expense, making the same profits they were doing before.

Here’s an example:

Brazil’s customer protections court notifies Apple yesterday that they were selling their phones without chargers, forcing Apple users to buy overpriced chargers with different warranties. And if you bought a cheaper one and used on the phone, it would void the warranty.

So, basically, this is forbidden by law here. It’s what we call, and i’ll translate literally here since i don’t think there is a expression for english: “Coupled sales” ( Venda casada )

So, the court was basically doing it’s job by safeguarding the brazilian customer, one of the most abused in the world.

Here’s what’s going to happen: They’ll just up the prices of the Iphone. So, we’ll buy them more expensively, because that’s what companies do.

Look, i love my government sending a fuck you to Apple, and i also respect a government that HAS laws to protect customers. But the world doesn’t work by letters and papers. It has practicality, it has a concrete way of functioning, that rarely connect with the rule, and more often than not, fall into loopholes.

And you can spend 67 years of your life pretending you know anything, but reality will work how reality wants to work, and those who have the power to bend that reality for their own profits.

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McGuffn

What it probably means for the dutch community is that if EA can’t make a game that is predatory the dutch community won’t have any game at all.

I’m sure EA is very broken up and sorry about this situation.

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Evasive Dice

Oh yeah man. Their crying into their pillows right now. As their actively looking for new jobs while this is going on. Aha