Electronic Sports’ popular gaming franchise, FIFA, has not only caught the attention of tens of millions of gamers, but after giving gamers control over a virtual version of their favourite club, it has captured the attention of the Belgium and Netherlands national governments.
Both governments are now claiming the new game modes are “akin to gambling”.
FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) allows players to build their own football club with in-game cards. Users who amass enough player-hours in-game currency to purchase better players or spend real cash on in-game coins to buy “packs” that give gamers you a chance to get some of the game’s best footballers.
Certain European governments are now considering regulating the game mode as the ‘coins’ created can be sold on the black market.
EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson disagrees: “We don’t believe that FIFA Ultimate Team – all loot boxes are gambling: Firstly, players always receive a specified number of items in each FUT pack. And secondly, we don’t provide or authorise any way to cash out or sell items in virtual currency for real-world money.
“We forbid the transfer of items of in-the-game currency outside, we also actively seek to eliminate that where it’s going on in an illegal environment,” he added.
EA’s defence is that players cannot “cash out in-game items for money”.
However, the Dutch Gaming Authority and the Belgian Gaming Commission, do not agree: Koen Geens, the Belgian minister of justice, said in a statement: “The games with paid loot boxes, as currently offered in our country, are therefore in violation of the gaming legislation and can be dealt with under criminal law,” the statement said.