EA Dodges Massive Loot Boxes Fine
In a ruling that will send ripples around the global gaming community, video games giant Electronic Arts (EA) recently dodged a bullet. A Dutch court overturned a previous Hague ruling that ordered the company to part with a whopping $10.9 million in fines over its use of loot boxes.
In 2020, it was decided that EA had breached gambling laws in the Netherlands by offering FIFA Ultimate Team packs to players. The Hague court at the time slapped the video games maker with a massive fine for the gambling-related offense. But this all changed when the Dutch Administration Jurisdiction Division (DAJD) overruled the decision last week, meaning no fine will be payable over the use of loot boxes as part of the popular soccer video game.
Skill Vs Gambling
According to the DAJD, Ultimate Team packs form part of a wider game that relies heavily on the skill(s) of the player. The gambling judicial authority also pointed out that most of the in-game packs are used for participation in the game, and as such, do not require a gambling licence for regulation and oversight.
Concerning the issue of the packs being traded on the black market, the court ruled that this related mainly to the trading of entire accounts instead of individual player cards. As a result, the DAJD described the black-market trading of team packs as a "relative" issue, and not something EA should be punished or penalised for.
Following the initial ruling back in 2020, the video games maker would have three weeks from date of decision to make certain changes to its FIFA 19, FIFA 20, and FIFA 21 releases. It was decided at the time that a failure to do so would result in weekly fines up to $274,745 both EA as well as local distributor EA Swiss Sarl.
EA voiced disappointment following the ruling and indicated that it would appeal the Hague court's decision.
Loot Boxes Not Out The Woods
EA Sports has now welcomed the overturning of the initial ruling, saying that the new decision confirms the company's conviction that FIFA Ultimate Team packs do not constitute gambling.
Instead, EA described the elements of FIFA and FIFA Ultimate Team as fair and fun, and game designs known to add value to the overall playing experience.
But while EA appears to be off the hook in the Netherlands, the video games maker continues to face scrutiny and controversy in many other parts of the world.
A major lawsuit recently filed had been by players from British Columbia and Ontario. Several players are demanding repayment of the money spent on loot boxes from EA.