EA Sports plans to stand firm and continue its ‘loot box’ Ultimate Team mode, EA CEO Andrew Wilson has revealed.
Despite Belgium and the Netherlands ruling that loot boxes in games such as FIFA Ultimate Team are equivalent to gambling and in violation of their laws, EA vowed to ‘continue pushing forward’ with the controversial service.
“We’re going to continue pushing forward [with FIFA Ultimate Team],” Wilson said during a conference call with industry analysts.
“We’re always thinking about our players.
“We’re always thinking about how to deliver these types of experiences in a transparent, fun, fair, and balanced way for our players — and we’ll continue to work with regulators on that.”
Ultimate Team modes in FIFA, Madden NFL, NHL, and NBA Live on PC, consoles, and mobile revolve around buying packs containing a random selection of players.
The contents of the pack are deliberately kept vague, which led to a number of gaming authorities in Europe to classify the offering as gambling.
There has been growing pressure on the company to make packs more transparent – a move that would go down positively with the FIFA community.
However, EA is fiercely protective of their service, which has helped the company grow to $1.25 billion during its last quarter. Transparency, it seems, is still some way off.
“First, players always receive a specified number of items in every FUT pack,” explained Wilson.
“Second, we don’t provide or authorise any way to cash out digital items or virtual currency for real-world money. And there’s no real-world value assigned to in-game items.”
He continued: “We’re working with all of the industry associations globally and with regulators in certain regions and territories.
“Many of [the regulators] we’ve been working with for a long time, and they have evaluated and established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling.”
Gamers can spend hundreds of pounds building the best Ultimate Team in the game – a price, for many, that’s far too high.
As a result, coin generators and cheap FUT coin sites are rife – where you can exchange virtual currency for real-world cash and vise-versa.
“While we forbid the transfer of items and in-game currency outside of the games, we also actively seek to eliminate that where it’s going on in an illegal environment,” said Wilson.
“We work with various regulators on that.”
Meanwhile, the UK’s Gambling Commission still doesn’t think loot boxes are gambling or illegal in any way – but as cadence gathers in Europe, how long it’ll stay that way is anybody’s guess.