Loot boxes are a contentious subject in video games — and a global one at that. The United States proposed a loot box bill in the Senate in 2019, and some countries like the Netherlands have even taken companies like EA to court over the issue. One such case has now been settled.
In October 2020, EA was ordered to pay $550,000 for every week that loot boxes were sold in Ultimate Team mode in various FIFA games. This amounted to more than $11 million. However, the fine was overturned on appeal, and as per the new ruling, EA owes nothing now.
Understanding why requires a quick explanation of some Dutch gambling laws. “Games of chance” include typical gambling fare like slot machines, which require a license to operate. Loot boxes might feel like slot machines to you, but the difference (in the eyes of the Dutch court) is that they are part of the overall FIFA game and not a standalone experience like a slot machine. As such, Ultimate Team and its loot boxes are considered part of FIFA’s “broader game of skill” and don’t require EA to have a gambling license. No game of chance, no unlicensed gambling, no fine.
In simpler news, EA Sports is removing Russian teams from FIFA 22 and other sports games in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s one of many moves made by the gaming industry in support of the victims there.