It seems that Electronic Arts is coming back to face a new problem derived from the inclusion of a loot box system and the age rating of his game, this time focused on FIFA 21 and the two previous installments of his football simulator.
The Kansspelautoriteit, the same Dutch gaming authority that already punished the developer with Star Wars Battlefront 2, conducted an investigation two years ago to find possible violations of gambling and betting laws in ten anonymous titles from various companies.
However, despite EA’s efforts to try to evade the fine, and avoid the escalation and leakage of this process to the public, they seem to have been in vain, since finally the Kansspelautoriteit has announced that all developers except EA complied with their request, thus escalating to a fine of 10 million euros.
For its part, EA’s defense was based on two main points: the argument that FIFA 21 is a game mainly focused on the skill of the players, and although there is an element of probability in loot boxes, they do not change the way the game is played; and the fact that loot boxes have no monetary value outside of the game.
However, it appears that this has not been enough to evade the definition of the Netherlands Gambling and Gaming Act, with the resolution this week of the District Court of The Hague against EA this week, confirming that the lawsuit and the fine still stand.
“We believe that it is crucial to protect vulnerable groups, such as minors, from exposure to gambling”, Assured a KSA spokesman. “For that reason, we support a strict separation between gaming and betting. Players are often young and therefore particularly susceptible to developing an addiction. As such, game elements have no place in games.«.
However, the sentence is not yet final, now counting EA with six weeks to appeal, something that the company is already clear will carry out. «Players around the world have enjoyed FIFA and FIFA Ultimate Team mode for many years and as such we are disappointed by this decision and what it can mean for our Dutch community«, Declared from EA to GamesIndustry.
With a situation quite against for EA, the possible solutions would now go through reiterating its defense of the loot boxes, paying the fine, or remove FIFA loot boxes in the Netherlands as Activision did with Overwatch. Something that, in addition to additional work, could end up leading to other regulatory bodies requiring the same treatment, something in which EA will not be very interested.