Updated January 28, 2019: EA will stop selling microtransactions bundles in FIFA 19 in Belgium. Considering that executives could've faced jail time if they didn't comply, this seems like the right move.
In April 2018, Belgium banned loot boxes from video games by ruling that they were a form of gambling. While many publishers complied with this decision and removed the ability to purchase them using actual currency, EA is taking a stand with FIFA 19. According to The Daily Telegraph, companies that fail to comply could face fines of up to €800,000 or five years in prison for those involved in the decision.
You may remember EA as the company that triggered this whole debate in the first place with its egregious pay-to-win microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II. Instead of finding a better model, EA head Andrew Wilson said, "We don't believe that FIFA Ultimate Team or loot boxes are gambling firstly because players always receive a specified number of items in each pack. Secondly we don't provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money." They'll be part of FIFA 19 even in Belgium.
EA is using a very strict definition of gambling, and it's unclear if this will make its way to court. However, the fact that the publisher is refusing to remove them from FIFA 19 and wants to challenge the Belgian Gambling Commission's decision is going to cause legal problems for its gaming ambitions in the country to say the least. We'll keep you posted.
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