EA says that it will appeal against a ruling by the District Court of the Hague, which this morning ruled in favour of the Netherlands Gambling Authority (NGA)’s position that certain elements of FIFA Ultimate Team violate the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act.
“Players all over the world have enjoyed FIFA and the FIFA Ultimate Team mode for many years and as such, we are disappointed by this decision and what it may mean for our Dutch community,” Dirk Scholing, Country Manager Electronic Arts Benelux, tells us in a statement. “We do not believe that our products and services violate gambling laws in any way.
“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. Electronic Arts is deeply committed to positive play. We seek to bring choice, fairness, value and fun to all our players in all of our games. We remain open to discussions with the Netherlands Gambling Authority and other stakeholders to understand and explore solutions to address any concerns.”
The NGA has issued a press release with some background on the case. It’s been looking into loot boxes in videogames since 2018, its investigation finding that in its view, “a number of loot boxes were not in compliance with Dutch law” and that “there was evidence to suggest a possible association between loot boxes and the development of addiction in players. […] Loot boxes (called ‘packs’ in FIFA) are the exponent of this trend.”
Based on this view, the NGA has been trying to restrict the sale of FIFA Ultimate Team’s player card packs. The organisation is demanding that EA remove the system, and for every week that it does not, it will be charged a fine of €500,000, to a maximum of €5 million.
The dispute has been in the courts, and this morning the District Court of the Hague passed its judgement in favour of the NGA. You can read its statement in full here.
With EA’s decision to appeal, the case now moves up to one of the Netherlands’ four courts of appeal. A supreme court rests above these.