EA chief hits back in loot boxes gambling row

10 May 2018

Andrew Wilson, chief executive of Electronic Arts, has rejected suggestions from a number of national regulators that loot boxes in video games should be classed as gambling.

Last month, the Belgium Gaming Commission ruled that ‘loot boxes’ in games are “in violation of gambling legislation” and ordered all boxes that can be purchased with real money be removed from games in the country.

Companies and developers that fail to comply with the new regulations in the country could face a fine of up to €800,000 ($949,700).

The Dutch Gaming Authority has also made similar comments in recent months, casting doubts over the future of such features in video games.

However, Wilson has now hit back at the claims, saying in an investor call this week that loot boxes featured in the EA Sports ‘FIFA’ series are not gambling.

‘FIFA Ultimate Team’ in FIFA games allows players to build their own team with in-game cards, which they can acquire using in-game currency.

Players can amass this currency by unlocking certain achievements in the game or boost their wallet by purchasing coins for real money.

The issue raised by regulators in Belgium and the Netherlands is that gamers do not know what players they will get in their virtual “packs”, thus introducing an element of gambling.

In response, Wilson said: “We don’t believe that FIFA Ultimate Team – all loot boxes are gambling.

“Firstly, players always receive a specified number of items in each FUT pack.

“And secondly, we don’t provide or authorise any way to cash out or sell items in virtual currency for real-world money.

“We forbid the transfer of items of in-the-game currency outside, we also actively seek to eliminate that where it’s going on in an illegal environment.”

Related article: Belgium rules video game ‘loot boxes’ breach gambling laws