The Belgian government has issued a warrant to publisher Electronic Arts (EA) and sent a file to prosecutors for non-compliance in regards to new Belgian Gambling Laws, according to the Belgian publication Metro.
Earlier this April, the Belgian Gaming Commission ruled that a number of titles, chiefly Overwatch, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and FIFA 18, the game that brings EA into the controversy, all were in violation with the nation’s laws on gambling. The publishers were given an eight week period to adjust their microtransactions to align more with the law or face the threat of fines and even imprisonment. Both Valve and Blizzard responded that they would fall in line; Blizzard disabled loot boxes and the ability to buy them for all Belgian players while Valve went a step further and disabled loot boxes in both Belgium and the Netherlands.
EA though refused to fall in line. The law states that since loot boxes are not key components of the games and since the contents are randomized, despite the fact that they are earned through feats of skill, they are therefore gambling and the proper safeguards to protect consumers should, therefore, be instituted. EA vehemently believes that their loot box system in FIFA 18 does not fall into that category and are holding strong with the system they initially implemented.
The next steps in the case will likely be determined by the Belgian prosecutors’ office in regards to what charges they want to pursue against the publishing giant.
EA has stated in the past that this will not affect their design philosophy or implementation of loot boxes in future titles. Games like the upcoming Anthem won’t have loot boxes, but instead cosmetic microtransactions. FIFA 19, on the other hand, will have the same loot box system as FIFA 18 has when it launches later this month.