Child gambling concerns prompt EA to remove FIFA ‘loot boxes’ in Belgian

Child gambling concerns prompt EA to remove FIFA 'loot boxes' in Belgian

FIFA 19 producer Electronic Arts has said that it will stop selling the ‘FIFA Points’ in-game currency in Belgium.

The move comes after legal threats from the Belgian Gambling Commission over FIFA’s use of the controversial ‘loot box’ mechanic that some say encourage child gambling.

Loot boxes, in which game players can buy mystery packages that offer random in-game items, were deemed illegal in Belgian law last year. The Commission called loot boxes an ‘illegal game of chance’, as players could not see what was contained in the packs before purchase.

In FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode (FUT), players can use real world money to buy FIFA Points which can then be spent on packs containing a mixture of mystery footballers to use in their team.

EA had initially refused to remove its loot box mechanics following the April ruling, stating that the publisher didn’t agree that the practice constituted gambling, but that FUT player packs more resembled Panini stickers. Several other publishers removed loot boxes from their games, such as with 2K’s NBA series, even while expressing their disagreement.

EA’s refusal caused the Belgian Gambling Commission to threaten legal action, as its ruling was yet to be tested in court. Companies that fail to comply with the ruling could face fines of up to €800,000 (£697,000) or up to five years in prison.

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