EA Defies Belgian Lootbox Law

AlphaAtlas

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Back in April, Belgium declared that in-game lootboxes are illegal "games of chance." Publishers like Valve, Blizzard, and 2K ripped lootbox systems out of their games, even though some of them weren't happy about it. However, EA is apparently holding their ground. The Belgian news organization Metro reports that the Brussels public prosecutor is conducting a criminal investigation into FIFA 18's and 19's lootbox systems. EA officials previously stated that they don't consider their lootbox systems to be a form of gambling, while the Belgian Minister of Justice said companies who do not comply risk a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to 800,000 Euros.

"We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world, and take these responsibilities very seriously. We care deeply that our players are having a fun and fair experience in all of our games, and take great care to ensure each game is marketed responsibly, including in compliance with regional ratings standards. We welcome the dialogue with Minister Geens on these topics, as we do not agree that our games can be considered as any form of gambling."
 
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When you think that you can peddle gambling services without the security and verification procedures of casinos with no inclination for your own internal policing... Eventually the long arm is going up your ass.

Police yourself or be policed. They had an option for years, they knew this was coming. They decided the cheques were more valuable than any potential consequence, lawmakers are going to make this hurt.
 

emphy

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How the fuck do you shoehorn loot boxes into a sports game anyway?

You have to somehow degrade the quality of the game to make the loot boxes attractive, is there some kind of grind to these games now?

At a guess (I haven't played EA stuff in years): combine pokemon with sports trading cards in some kind of multiplayer mode.
 

auntjemima

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How the fuck do you shoehorn loot boxes into a sports game anyway?

You have to somehow degrade the quality of the game to make the loot boxes attractive, is there some kind of grind to these games now?

I haven't been keeping up either, but I would suspect they are boxes filled with different looks, clothes, uniforms, maybe balls or whatever. Some rares etc and obviously the ones with a lower percentage of drop would be the most desirable causing kids to buy them until they get what they want.

In games these items used to fall and could take MONTHS to obtain. All these companies have done is offer you a paid option vs a time option. Outside of the $15 a month for WoW I've never paid to get items in-game. Maybe the people that do feel their time is better spent elsewhere and just buy the things they don't want to grind
 

jnemesh

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This is fairly typical behavior for the mega-corporations lately. They believe they are above the law, flat out, and are increasingly starting to act like this is indeed the case! I sincerely hope that EA gets full charges pressed against them that results in their executive team serving real jail time! This is needed to send a signal to these corporations that they can't just pick and choose what laws they will obey in each country!
 
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tetris42

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When you think that you can peddle gambling services without the security and verification procedures of casinos with no inclination for your own internal policing... Eventually the long arm is going up your ass.

Police yourself or be policed. They had an option for years, they knew this was coming. They decided the cheques were more valuable than any potential consequence, lawmakers are going to make this hurt.
Who knows, we're living in an age where corporations have more authority than our own laws in many cases (how many people went to jail for fraud in the 2008 crash again?) It could be Belgium has its democracy more in tact to have some teeth though.
 
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At a guess (I haven't played EA stuff in years): combine pokemon with sports trading cards in some kind of multiplayer mode.

I haven't been keeping up either, but I would suspect they are boxes filled with different looks, clothes, uniforms, maybe balls or whatever. Some rares etc and obviously the ones with a lower percentage of drop would be the most desirable causing kids to buy them until they get what they want.

In games these items used to fall and could take MONTHS to obtain. All these companies have done is offer you a paid option vs a time option. Outside of the $15 a month for WoW I've never paid to get items in-game. Maybe the people that do feel their time is better spent elsewhere and just buy the things they don't want to grind

From what I can find, it looks like the lootboxes dictate the players you get for your team.

That's pretty fucked up if it's true. They disabled something so they could sell it to their customers.
 
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Who knows, we're living in an age where corporations have more authority than our own laws in many cases (how many people went to jail for fraud in the 2008 crash again?) It could be Belgium has its democracy more in tact to have some teeth though.

I know that here in Canada you wouldn't see a legal crack down on any corporation without a huge body count involved.

Of course, we've allowed American companies living fat off US military subsidies to consume all of our own, domestic companies so our laws can't really have an teeth. Corporations certainly don't live under the law south of the border.
 

emphy

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I'm pretty sure the US has an extradition treaty with Belgium.

Yep, funny detail: quite a few of the people from Europe being moved to the US under similar treaties have been provoked to perform a crime, in Europe, to a US investigator (a technique which is prohibited in many of those countries), they get extradited, scared into entering a plea bargain and moved back to their respective home countries after a year or so of prison time. Great way to spend tax-payers money on either side of the Atlantic.

Who knows, we're living in an age where corporations have more authority than our own laws in many cases (how many people went to jail for fraud in the 2008 crash again?) It could be Belgium has its democracy more in tact to have some teeth though.

Not really gambling related, but a Belgian friend of mine told me about an attempt to intimidate a tax-collector. Her response was, "you can kill me, but then you'll just have to deal with my replacement". There's some tough bureaucrats over there.
 

Denpepe

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Its going to be a big prison to hold an entire company. But I say its about time! :)

You do not want to end up in a Belgian prison, they are terribley overpopulated and so old medival prisons seem a better alternative.

There is already talk about ammending the law in case EA get's a win.

Still not sure why they singled out a few companies though, there are a lot more selling lootboixes then the ones mentioned in the article.
 

singe_101

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I haven't been keeping up either, but I would suspect they are boxes filled with different looks, clothes, uniforms, maybe balls or whatever. Some rares etc and obviously the ones with a lower percentage of drop would be the most desirable causing kids to buy them until they get what they want.

In games these items used to fall and could take MONTHS to obtain. All these companies have done is offer you a paid option vs a time option. Outside of the $15 a month for WoW I've never paid to get items in-game. Maybe the people that do feel their time is better spent elsewhere and just buy the things they don't want to grind

For FIFA Ultimate Team there are players in the loot boxes, with stats to affect the game directly. Like Messi in a pack.
 

N4CR

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This is just like the RAM fuckers and their price fixing.
They have worked out the profits far exceed the losses from some shitty symbolic court action like this. Plus they can drag it out for a long time..
 
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Vader1975

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We feel that (insert anything here) will never be a justification for breaking a countries laws.
If this idiocy worked then I feel that the bank should give me money at gunpoint. I would suddenly be within the law because of my "feelings."
Nope EA you will lose this sucker. You may even find someone in jail. That would be truly comedic.
 

Armenius

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How the fuck do you shoehorn loot boxes into a sports game anyway?

You have to somehow degrade the quality of the game to make the loot boxes attractive, is there some kind of grind to these games now?
Look up Ultimate Team on Youtube and prepare to be disgusted.
 

zamardii12

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Its going to be a big prison to hold an entire company. But I say its about time! :)

I imagine even if EA just stopped selling their games in Belgium it would barely ding them. It would suck, but I don't imagine that much.

I am sure EA would rather just stop selling in Belgium than risk huge fines by the EU/Belgian government.
 

sadsteve

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I have friends that their kids spent $1000 on fifa 18. It’s crzy

Wow, if I had a kid that did that there would be some drastic steps taken in my house (assuming this is a non-adult child).

1) Since they feel they can spend a $1000 on a freaking game, they can obviously start paying for their own cell phone and usage plan. I'd take their smart phone (I'd paid for it) and remove them from my account. I'd be willing to buy them a flip phone and a base level plan (just for emergency use)
2) Fifa 18 would be removed from the kid's computer (I'd paid for the computer too) and all future gaming purchase would need to be vetted by me.
3) Network monitoring and filtering would be setup on my router and I'd be setting limits on when and how long they can be on the internet.
 

vegeta535

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Wow, if I had a kid that did that there would be some drastic steps taken in my house (assuming this is a non-adult child).

1) Since they feel they can spend a $1000 on a freaking game, they can obviously start paying for their own cell phone and usage plan. I'd take their smart phone (I'd paid for it) and remove them from my account. I'd be willing to buy them a flip phone and a base level plan (just for emergency use)
2) Fifa 18 would be removed from the kid's computer (I'd paid for the computer too) and all future gaming purchase would need to be vetted by me.
3) Network monitoring and filtering would be setup on my router and I'd be setting limits on when and how long they can be on the internet.
That's how you should be treating a kid before they even do stupid shit like that. The old saying. Give them a inch they will take a mile.
 

MavericK

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Are these shitty cookie-cutter sports games really the hill that these companies want to die on?

Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to see them get bitchslapped, but really...
 

auntjemima

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Are these shitty cookie-cutter sports games really the hill that these companies want to die on?

Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to see them get bitchslapped, but really...

FIFA games are extremely popular. I would hazard a guess even more so across the ocean. They will make way more than the fine would ever be. It's like some companies would get fined for being open in my town on Sundays when I was growing up. Some of them made more than the fines and stayed open anyway.. no different here.
 
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Look up Ultimate Team on Youtube and prepare to be disgusted.

Huh. They literally removed a feature that had been in these games for decades so they could sell it to people who already bought their fucking game piecemeal.

Edit: My search lead me to NBA 2K18.

EA: "Hah! We're the worst now!"
2K: "Hold my beer."
 
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katanaD

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I imagine even if EA just stopped selling their games in Belgium it would barely ding them. It would suck, but I don't imagine that much.

I am sure EA would rather just stop selling in Belgium than risk huge fines by the EU/Belgian government.


yeah, i have to wonder if it would not be more cost effective to keep selling the loot boxes, but ban selling the game in belgium. would be an interesting choice to follow
 

GoodBoy

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Isn't this how Fortnite makes money too? Or is it at least not random items? That would remove the gambling aspect, being able to buy what you want.

In the video above, they talk about haircuts being bought with currency, but that isn't a lootbox...

I don't play those console games, so can someone explain how it all works?

Buying haircuts with vc, who gives a shit? It's just something cosmetic.
 

MaZa

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Prepare your anus EA! This is actually one of the few times population is actually on the side of governement.

However if by some miracle EA happened to win, that would be disasterous for AAA gaming. We would never see the end for the microtransaction scams, they would get worse and worse between each game. That would also most likely mean an end for my gaming hobby.
 

ThatITGuy

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From what I can find, it looks like the lootboxes dictate the players you get for your team.

That's pretty fucked up if it's true. They disabled something so they could sell it to their customers.

I think others have covered it already, but EA has been really pushing the "Football Ultimate Team" game mode where you are given a free pack of player cards, and you build your team from that. You play games in FUT to earn the credits to be able to buy additional packs (with the option to pay cash). The packs have a few different tiers, with the highest giving you the best chance at one of the "star" players. They also release (weekly?) a "Team of the Week" (TOTW), with special versions of some players that had a really good week (so better stats). There is even a "Team of the Year" (TOTY) version of players, and maybe a few other alternates. The only way to get one of these is to buy one of these higher tier packs. As you can imagine, the actual chance of getting one is quite low. So even if you get lucky and get Ronaldo, you may only have the base Ronaldo, not the TOTW or TOTY.
Having better players helps you do better in the matches. This is especially true since, in order to get decent credits, you will likely be going up against other players with these guys.

You can still play online vs people just using the different teams, and you can still use the players in the other game modes.
I just stick to Career mode, and if i want to play with certain players on the team i edit the team before starting the career mode. Of course you don't play online in career mode, but I find online competitive to be more and more distasteful of late.
 
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singe_101

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Wow, if I had a kid that did that there would be some drastic steps taken in my house (assuming this is a non-adult child).

I was playing emulators as a teen and it wasn't legal but I saved a lot of money. Gameboy Advance games were pretty fun on a larger screen (PC). Like Golden Sun. Now there could be too much malware to download anything, maybe only use linux for them and viruses won't work? Dunno. Nintendo might have the fewest ways to spend money on DLC, though maybe I am lost in the past. And FIFA is on the Switch so it's not all Nintendo games on it, etc.. The Mario iOS game was bugging me to make micro purchases but it was free and they are a business. I also know they have some retro consoles but don't actually know the specifics and the ROMs available in 2003 were pretty extensive, never got bored.

Maybe if they always boot to linux for gaming then there's no Origin, they buy physical Steam cards and don't spend a ton, etc.
 

vegeta535

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Prepare your anus EA! This is actually one of the few times population is actually on the side of governement.

However if by some miracle EA happened to win, that would be disasterous for AAA gaming. We would never see the end for the microtransaction scams, they would get worse and worse between each game. That would also most likely mean an end for my gaming hobby.
We will never see the end unless people stop throwing money at it. I don't care how good the game is people need to stop supporting these practices. Stop buying those games. It will only cause companies to keep pushing til they find the breaking point. What EA is doing with sports games is far worst then the BF2 scandal and this gets zero backlash.
 
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GoodBoy

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We will never see the end unless people stop throwing money at it. I don't care how good the game is people need to stop supporting these practices. Stop buying those games. It will only cause companies to keep pushing til they find the breaking point. What EA is doing with sports games is far worst then the BF2 scandal and this gets zero backlash.

The ship has sailed... microtransactions are where the money is.

Buy a used game? No Problem! You need to buy the player packs for your account, we got it right here just $29.95. Want the cute haircut on Ronaldo? Here, we can sell you that too...
***
Fortnite makes 100 million dollars a month on cosmetics... its far more than if the game sold for $59.99, which takes 1.67 million copies sold to make the same amount, and this is a 1 time sale. The June numbers said 125 million people have played fortnite, and likely some tried it but are not regular players. If 100 million of those were willing to buy it at $59.99, that's 6 billion dollars. At the rate its raking it in, only 60 months to make the same amount with microtransactions. It's highly unlikely that 100 million copies would be sold for any game, so they are on track to make more money with microtransactions alone. PUBg has sold 50 million copies and that was at only $30 iirc.

This is why the microtransactions are the superior income model:
The game is free, so more people will play it. More people playing means more popularity, which means even more people playing... The 125 million players who have tried it so far attests to that.
Eliminate the used game market since it is free to begin with. In game items, achievements, season badges etc, cost $. So anyone playing has to pay to get those benefits. Losses from resold games, cracked games is eliminated up front, because the money is made elsewhere.
With the larger playerbase thanks to being free+popular, means the market to sell in game items (even if solely cosmetic), is huge. The game was free, so $5 for an outfit or the season badge, players can justify. Even those who would normally have downloaded a cracked copy of the game are probably willing to spend $5 here or there. More of a pay as you go kind of scheme, and the dollar amounts are small. So the sticker shock of some broke teenager of a $60 title are not present, and they can afford the $5 here and there.

Result? They have 10x fold if not 100x fold the player base they would have had, if it had been a game released at $59.99. They are on track to make more from microtransactions than from an upfront cost. The popularity has just built more momentum, people will likely be playing it for years to come.

As far as I am concerned, as long as the microtransactions are solely for cosmetic items, I don't care. As long as it isn't pay to win, or pay to be able to play the certain characters like Luke in Star Wars Battlefront, or Ronaldo in a football/soccer game. This is for games I paid ($59.99) for. If the game is free up front, all bets are probably off, but would really prefer they stick to cosmetic items for things sold, and not the playable characters/classes (if those characters have unique abilites like a Force user, or a better than average football player). If it's a cosmetic character, fine.
 

xellos2099alpha

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Wow, if I had a kid that did that there would be some drastic steps taken in my house (assuming this is a non-adult child).

1) Since they feel they can spend a $1000 on a freaking game, they can obviously start paying for their own cell phone and usage plan. I'd take their smart phone (I'd paid for it) and remove them from my account. I'd be willing to buy them a flip phone and a base level plan (just for emergency use)
2) Fifa 18 would be removed from the kid's computer (I'd paid for the computer too) and all future gaming purchase would need to be vetted by me.
3) Network monitoring and filtering would be setup on my router and I'd be setting limits on when and how long they can be on the internet.
That depend if the kid use their own money or parent money. If the kid have a job and they pay for it, go ahead.
 

DrFino

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In the video above, they talk about haircuts being bought with currency, but that isn't a lootbox...

I don't play those console games, so can someone explain how it all works?

Buying haircuts with vc, who gives a shit? It's just something cosmetic.


90% of sports games today have an online PvP mode where you make your own team. You need to open card packs to get players and the best players are the hardest to get. Imagine hearthstone (or MTG you farts) but all of the common cards have 1/1 stats and all the legendary cards have 10/10 stats. Card rarity brings an objective advantage in these games. So pay money, get more packs, get more good cards, win more games. And each pack you open is one pull on the slot machine.

Here's a good video describing the so-called "Wilson Lootbox" (5:40 for a FIFA 201X pack opening):




It was once the case where you couldn't pay money to open packs in these games, and they were the means of progression, earning them through normal play. So the drop rates were fairly tuned to keep players engaged albeit using gambling-esque loops.

Once they started charging for the packs in later games, it suddenly takes longer and longer to earn your packs without paying, and you start to lose many more matches to people with top tier decks spending thousands of dollars.
 
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vegeta535

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The ship has sailed... microtransactions are where the money is.

Buy a used game? No Problem! You need to buy the player packs for your account, we got it right here just $29.95. Want the cute haircut on Ronaldo? Here, we can sell you that too...
***
Fortnite makes 100 million dollars a month on cosmetics... its far more than if the game sold for $59.99, which takes 1.67 million copies sold to make the same amount, and this is a 1 time sale. The June numbers said 125 million people have played fortnite, and likely some tried it but are not regular players. If 100 million of those were willing to buy it at $59.99, that's 6 billion dollars. At the rate its raking it in, only 60 months to make the same amount with microtransactions. It's highly unlikely that 100 million copies would be sold for any game, so they are on track to make more money with microtransactions alone. PUBg has sold 50 million copies and that was at only $30 iirc.

This is why the microtransactions are the superior income model:
The game is free, so more people will play it. More people playing means more popularity, which means even more people playing... The 125 million players who have tried it so far attests to that.
Eliminate the used game market since it is free to begin with. In game items, achievements, season badges etc, cost $. So anyone playing has to pay to get those benefits. Losses from resold games, cracked games is eliminated up front, because the money is made elsewhere.
With the larger playerbase thanks to being free+popular, means the market to sell in game items (even if solely cosmetic), is huge. The game was free, so $5 for an outfit or the season badge, players can justify. Even those who would normally have downloaded a cracked copy of the game are probably willing to spend $5 here or there. More of a pay as you go kind of scheme, and the dollar amounts are small. So the sticker shock of some broke teenager of a $60 title are not present, and they can afford the $5 here and there.

Result? They have 10x fold if not 100x fold the player base they would have had, if it had been a game released at $59.99. They are on track to make more from microtransactions than from an upfront cost. The popularity has just built more momentum, people will likely be playing it for years to come.

As far as I am concerned, as long as the microtransactions are solely for cosmetic items, I don't care. As long as it isn't pay to win, or pay to be able to play the certain characters like Luke in Star Wars Battlefront, or Ronaldo in a football/soccer game. This is for games I paid ($59.99) for. If the game is free up front, all bets are probably off, but would really prefer they stick to cosmetic items for things sold, and not the playable characters/classes (if those characters have unique abilites like a Force user, or a better than average football player). If it's a cosmetic character, fine.
I know I know but one can dream. The thing about cosmetic MT is that it started all this shit. That God damn horse armor started all this.
 
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kju1

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Not really gambling related, but a Belgian friend of mine told me about an attempt to intimidate a tax-collector. Her response was, "you can kill me, but then you'll just have to deal with my replacement". There's some tough bureaucrats over there.

Well what do you expect when you tax the shit out of everyone to give away free stuff? ;)
 

DrFino

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Fortnite makes 100 million dollars a month on cosmetics...

Fortnite is actually one of the few games that have microtransactions and F2P done right. I am glad to see a game with such a business model doing so well today, because it means we'll see more like it in the future.

This is one of the biggest F2P games of all time that offers absolutely no objective in-game advantage by spending money. I'd even argue your flashy $20 skin with excess particle effects puts you at a disadvantage because I can spot you from a mile away.
 

ChadD

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The ship has sailed... microtransactions are where the money is.

Used to be a killing in selling laudanum legally as well. Things change legally.

Micro transactions are however not the issue here. Loot boxes are.

Companies selling hair styles, shiny armor, and other cosmetics... or even right up pay for power stuff is FINE, nothing illegal about that. What is illegal in Belgium is gamble boxes.

The difference is in micro transaction games without a loot box system... you can say, yes this is crazy but for $500 I can unlock everything. The market can decide if that is to much to ask or not. A loot box game has no ceiling... you can spend $500 and unlock none of the big shiny stuff you where praying to RNJesus for. Its gambling... which most countries are not ok with. I would expect more countries will be putting anti in game gambling laws on the books in the next few years. What companies like EA are doing is no different then running online casinos... only these ones are often aimed at Kids which is plain fuc*ing sick.
 
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