More than half a year ago the Belgium government investigated the likes of loot boxes in videogames, specifically in FIFA, back in May. The Belgium Gaming Commission identified the feature allowing players to use real-time money in return for in-game currency as gambling under the nation’s legislation and would result with criminal prosecution for companies that held the practice.
Though publishers on either mobile or more prominent platforms like Steam held back when the Belgium government made the punishments for loot boxes clear, Electronic Arts chose to stand still and go to court on the situation. But leading up to 2019, EA has finally agreed to remove the feature from all FIFA titles.
Starting on January 31st for both consoles and PC, users will be unable to purchase FIFA points used for the series’ Ultimate Team mode. Those who currently hold any points on their account following the feature’s removal taking effect can still use the in-game currency.
Electronic Arts also made a statement regarding the prolonged case on the situation between the AAA publisher and the Belgium government:
While we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities’ interpretation of the law, and we will continue to seek more clarity on the matter as we go forward.
Despite EA pulling out of the lawsuit, the statement illustrates that the company still believes that the business practice should still be present in their titles. For what other titles will be affected by the recent decision has not been expanded upon as of yet. But assuming that this is only the beginning, we could see more similar actions being taken leading into the next few months for 2019.
As government continues to pursue the topic that both themselves along with players agree with for the most part to remove loot boxes/microtransactions alike, this could influence titles at an international scale if getting enough attention. 2018 was a pretty busy time for elected officials going against the less desired business practice like in Hawaii as well as the Australian government.