EA Sports will not sell FIFA Points in Belgium any more. The move comes after months of discussions with the Belgium Gaming Commission, which had declared video game loot boxes to be in violation of gambling rules in the country. While EA obviously doesn't agree with this interpretation of the law, it appears that the game developer doesn't have a choice in the matter any more. This means that people can use their existing FIFA Points in Belgium but not purchase them officially in the country. FIFA Points are a core component of FIFA Ultimate Team, the extremely popular online mode in FIFA.
You can buy FIFA Points with real money and use these to open card packs to get better players in the game. The catch is that very rarely do card packs feature players worthy of making it to the Team of the Year. Most people start off with average players and if they keep on grinding for months without paying, they have a small chance of assembling a decent squad in FIFA Ultimate Team.
EA's decision to shutter loot boxes in Belgium comes a few months we wrote that it's risking being on the wrong side of law in the country. If more countries ban loot boxes as Belgium has, then EA will have to reconsider how it implements these in FIFA. EA's statement reads: “After further discussions with the Belgian authorities, we have decided to stop offering FIFA Points for sale in Belgium. We're working to make these changes effective in our FIFA console and PC games by January 31, 2019.”
Effectively this means that FIFA Ultimate Team is going to become a long grind for all players in Belgium because no one can pay to speed up the progress. While EA does claim that all content can be earned through gameplay, it takes way too long to do so for most people and that may impact its player base in Belgium. “We apologise to our players in Belgium for any inconvenience caused by this change,” EA said.
EA does feel that by showing the probability of finding certain types of players in packs, it has created a fair system that's not akin to gambling. “While we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities' interpretation of the law, and we will continue to seek more clarity on the matter as we go forward. The impact of this change to FIFA Ultimate Team in Belgium is not material to our financial performance,” EA's statement read.
However, that remains up for debate because the Belgium Gaming Commission clearly doesn't agree with EA. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Fortnite's book could help EA as Fortnite now clearly shows which weapons are in loot boxes thanks to newly introduced X-Ray Llamas.
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