ibusinesslines.com November 18, 2018

Belgian govt opens criminal investigation into EA - Industry

12 September 2018, 06:02 | Jodi Jackson

Belgian govt opens criminal investigation into EA - Industry

Fifa 19 ultimate team

According to a report from Belgian website Nieuwsblad (thanks, Gamasutra), EA has refused to comply with Belgian gambling laws regarding Ultimate Team Packs in Federation Internationale de Football Association 18.

"Paid loot boxes aren't an inoffensive component of games which act like games that require skill", director of the Belgian Gaming Commission, Peter Naessens, said back in April of this year.

Blizzard, Valve, and 2K Games all adhered to the ruling and disabled the offending loot boxes in Belgium, but EA still hasn't followed suit. Described as an "illegal game of chance" by the Commission, the loot boxes could be deemed illegal for failing to ensure that minors aren't subjected to gambling, with the unknown nature of the loot boxes' rewards being to blame.

Well, according to nieuwsblad.be, EA seems to risk this punishment as they have refused to remove certain loot box options and virtual surprise boxes in both Federation Internationale de Football Association 18 and Federation Internationale de Football Association 19.

"For Ultimate Team, when you buy a pack you know what you are getting".

Any such prosecution would then go before a judge, which may be a legal battle EA is looking for.

If the Brussels public prosecutor's office decides to press the issue, it'll be taken to court. The case could potentially end up in court if EA fails to comply. Minister of Justice Koen Geens said publishers could risk prison sentences (up to five years) and fines (up to €800,000) if games with loot boxes continued to be distributed within Belgium.

Video game publisher Electronic Arts is in trouble with the Belgium government for its use of loot boxes in the "FIFA" franchise, according to the Dutch paper Metro.

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