FIFA’s Ultimate Team Lootboxes Officially Banned in the Netherlands
FIFA’s Ultimate Team lootboxes have officially been banned in the Netherlands. According to EA Benelux, they are “disappointed by this decision and what it may mean to our Dutch community,” but honestly? It sounds like a positive thing. It’s a shame that a game played in esports is stuck in a pay-to-win system, but here we are. This decision was handed down by the District Court of The Hague, in an official verdict.
Lootboxes Aren’t Gambling But EA Thinks So
According to a 2020 financial report, EA made nearly $1.5 billion in revenue from the FIFA lootboxes. That’s about 27% of the company’s net profit, which is horrifying. People who want to compete in professional FIFA have no choice but to spend possibly thousands of dollars in the game to compete. If you don’t have the best players, why would you even bother entering?
“We do not believe that our products and services violate gambling laws in any way,” said Dirk Scholing, country manager for EA Benelux, to PCGamesN. “We are appealing this decision and we seek to avoid a situation impacting the ability of Dutch players to fully experience and enjoy FIFA Ultimate Team.”
What led to the Netherlands seeing FIFA lootboxes being banned? Despite EA saying these are in no way gambling, the lootboxes are determined entirely by chance, and there is no way to influence their contents. That means you have no idea how many lootboxes it’s going to take to build your perfect team, and that means lots of money being invested. On top of that, the high-value players can be traded, breaching the Netherlands “Gambling Act.”
“Under Dutch law, a game of chance that allows a prize or premium to be won can only be provided if a relevant license has been granted,” said the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA). “The KSA believes it is crucial to shield vulnerable groups, such as minors, from exposure to gambling.”
According to the KSA, elements like this have no place in gaming. Were the game a free-to-play, it would possibly be one thing. It could likely be overlooked or forgiven. But a retail game with retail lootboxes? What did the KSA decide? EA can remove the FIFA Ultimate Team system’s gambling elements or be subjected to a $585,000 fine for every week the service is live. This will cap at $5.85 million. The Netherlands is not playing around.
This is not a thought unique to the Netherlands. All across Europe, the notion of these lootboxes has been discovered. Dot Esports reported back in February, where a pair of lawsuits were filed against the FIFA Ultimate Team mode, saying it feels much like a casino.
This particular writer agrees; this is a repulsive system, and it’s incredibly predatory. One professional player has sworn off the lootboxes, and his org is behind him on it. If more of the big-name content creators/streamers/players chose to stop using them, some real change could happen.
Reportedly, EA is not going to take this lying down and are going to appeal. But as of right now, the Netherlands banned FIFA lootboxes, and we certainly agree with the notion. We at Esports Talk don’t begrudge a company making a profit. This is a step too far, making a game have a retail cost and lootboxes that are all but required to compete online with.
We can’t see the Netherlands accepting the appeal, but what do you think? Is the Netherlands in the right here? Is FIFA a gambling simulator, and on top of that, a p2w esport? Or do you think people need to lighten up about it? We’re curious to know what you think!