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EA Faces Criminal Investigation In Belgium Over 'FIFA 18' And 'FIFA 19' Loot Boxes

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Renowned video game publisher Electronic Arts is in a world of trouble after it insisted to keep loot boxes in its football game. 

This is after the Brussels public prosecutor's office conducted a criminal investigation against Electronic Arts after it failed to comply with Belgium's anti-gambling laws. Should the office decide to prosecute, the case will go to court. NintendoLife noted that legal proceedings for the case will likely take over large periods of time.  

Prior to the investigation, the Gaming Commission revealed that loot boxes in Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global, and FIFA 18, would be reviewed under Belgian gambling laws. Earlier this April, the Belgian Gambling Commission announced that loot boxes were considered as a form of gambling under current Belgian law.

Under Belgian law, failure to comply with the ruling could result in a fine of £697,000 ($907,177) and up to five years in prison. Loot boxes are virtual containers that consist of mystery in-game items, such as currency and weapons.

Consequently, gaming connoisseurs can get loot boxes by paying for it or through gameplay. While commissions in Belgium and the Netherlands consider loot boxes as illegal, government bodies in the United Kingdom and New Zealand have come to a paradoxical conclusion.

Earlier this year, the Dutch gaming authority said that four games violated the Betting and Gaming Act but didn't reveal which. On the other hand, United States legislators and the Senate have been examining at the issue, but legislation has been enacted. 

EA To Contest Belgian Gambling Laws

While Valve and Blizzard have decided to remove loot boxes on their respective products, Electronic Arts remained firm in their position to keep loot boxes, citing that it does not constitute gambling. In a May conference call, Andrew Wilson, the CEO of Electronic Arts, added that its games do not provide any way to sell items for real money.

"We don't believe that FIFA Ultimate Team or loot boxes are gambling firstly because players always receive a specified number of items in each pack, and secondly we don't provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money," Wilson explained

Regardless of the criminal investigation, Electronic Arts is still planning to include loot boxes in FIFA 19, which will be unveiled at the end of September. Just this July, Electronic Arts divulged the odds for FIFA's ultimate team card, which resulted in some players spending five-figure sums on the digital trading cards.

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