Game developer Electronic Arts (EA) has received yet another red card from European gambling regulators due to the loot boxes in its popular football video game FIFA 18.
State regulators have previously called out EA over the loot boxes offered by its game Overwatch as an unauthorized form of gambling. Regulators have now turned their attention to EA’s popular football video game FIFA 18 after parents and players complained the game’s loot crates reminded them of the tricks used in casinos.
With his back to the wall, EA CEO Andrew Wilson decided to fight back and “push forward” against the loot box critics.
A defiant Wilson told The Sun that the loot boxes would be in EA’s future video games even if it meant that the company would face a possible £1.4 million ($1.89 million) fine. He also contended that loot boxes were not gambling, and that EA worked closely with “all the industry associations” to ensure that games like FIFA Ultimate Team are gambling-free.
“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 said, according to the news outlet.
EA’s Ultimate Team modes in FIFA, Madden NFL, NHL, and NBA Live are its biggest live-service moneymakers, helping the company’s revenue grow to $1.25 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
Loot boxes in video games were first introduced in 2010 with a crate system in Team Fortress 2. In the game, players are given the opportunity to purchase crates that contain specialized items—such as new weapons and wearable headgear—that will help them progress in their tasks.
The debate on whether loot boxes should be considered gambling started in 2017 during the beta testing phase of EA’s long-awaited Star Wars Battlefront II.
The issue continues to divide regulators across the globe. Just recently, Belgium caught up with other regulators who have come out against loot boxes in recent months, including the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany. Meanwhile, the UK Gambling Commission and the Gambling Compliance Office of New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs both agreed that loot boxes did not meet the legal definition of gambling.