EA FIFA Loot Boxes Fine Allowed To Go Forward
EA has six weeks to appeal the latest decision from a Netherlands court, or it will have to pay roughly $11 million in fines.
A district court in the Netherlands has allowed a fine over EA's FIFA loot boxes to proceed, after EA contested the original decision. A three-judge panel determined that the Netherlands Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit aka Ksa) can proceed in fining the company €10 million (approximately $11.6 million USD).
GamesIndustry.biz that the Ksa informed developers in April 2018 that loot boxes were violations of the act and gave eight weeks to make its games compliant. EA was then fined in October 2018, but the publisher contested the fine. With this new ruling, the court has determined that the Ksa can impose a fine of €5 million to both Electronic Arts and Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl, for the total of €10 million.
EA now has six weeks to appeal the decision. A representative told Eurogamer it plans to appeal.
EA had argued that FIFA's Ultimate Team packs cannot be converted to money, and so it does not constitute gambling, and that there is no evidence that it leads to gambling addiction. EA also argued that forbidding Ultimate Team packs was a violation of its property rights and freedom of expression.
The court found that people can profit from Ultimate Team cards themselves, and that evidence of gambling addiction is not required for every new video game. The court was similarly unswayed by the property rights and expression arguments. It noted that the Ksa gave EA an opportunity to update its game and the company didn't, and that the Betting and Gaming Act allows the agency to weigh a company's right to self-expression against the public good.
"The game's providers are the parties that decided to include a gambling game within the game, thereby breaking the law," the court said. "The Ksa has pointed this out to Electronic Arts Inc. and Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl repeatedly. Electronic Arts Inc. and Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl are therefore itself responsible for changing the game such that it is no longer in contravention of the law. How exactly it accomplishes this is at their discretion."
The concern over loot boxes and gambling has been in the public eye, especially in regards to the risk it poses to minors. EA recently got in hot water over this in the UK as well, where it had to pull loot box ads from a kids magazine. The company apologized for the advertisement. EA is planning a next-gen upgrade for FIFA 21 to come in December.