Electronic Arts to Introduce FIFA Loot Box Spending Controls
EA, makers of the popular FIFA series of games will be introducing controls in-game that will enable controls to be placed on spending. Players can spend real money in-game to purchase loot boxes; a process many critics state is unregulated gambling.
Electronic Arts (EA) has announced it will be introducing a toolkit that will enable restrictions to be placed on a player’s account. Functionality includes the ability to block or limit spending on loot boxes in the Ultimate Team feature in the FIFA video game series.
It will also enable limitations on the amount of playing time, and the account holder will be able to view how much has been spent in total while playing the game. Although EA has stated, this value would be shown as FIFA points, not converted into pound sterling.
Detailing the changes on the game’s community blog site, EA called the new toolkit FIFA Playtime which the company described as, “a new suite of tools that enable players to have more control and visibility over how they play.” They are stating that Playtime will allow gamers to limits on the amount of FIFA points they can buy and spend.
They can also place a limit on the number of packs they can open within a specified time frame.
The issue of loot boxes in console games and also on mobile devices has become a hot topic in recent years with many campaigners calling for the practice to be banned, especially in games like FIFA, which is played by many children. They claim they are a form of gambling and should come under the remit of the regulator, the UK Gambling Commission.
EA themselves were ordered to pay a €5m fine last month after Dutch authorities found that the game violated the country’s Betting and Gaming Act.
The District Court of The Hague ruled that offering loot boxes for cash was a form of gambling and imposed the fine on EA and its payments management subsidiary Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl. The court found that games that offered a prize in a game of chance, should have the appropriate licence, they also ordered that the FIFA series of games be withdrawn for sale in the country.
The Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA) said in a statement: “The KSA feels that a strict distinction must be made between games and games of chance. Games of chance are high-risk products, and offering them without a licence is prohibited. Adding:
The KSA is alarmed that more and more games are appearing with elements of gambling, not least because gamers tend to be young and particularly susceptible to developing a gambling addiction.– KSA, Statement.
The Dutch prosecution is likely to add pressure on the UK’s Gambling Commission who by their own data admitted that in a report 30% of the 2,865 children who took part in a poll had opened at least one loot box in a videogame.
However, Neil McArthur said to a Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee, that while there are “significant concerns” about children playing games that offer loot boxes, loot boxes themselves do not qualify as a form of gambling under current laws.
Adding: “”There are other examples of things that look and feel like gambling that legislation tells you are not—[such as] some prize competitions but because they have free play or free entry they are not gambling… but they are a lot like a lottery”.