EA To Stop Selling FUT Points in Belgium

By Rich Stanton on at

Well well well. In April 2018 Belgian legislators set the country on a collision course with the video games industry, specifically concerning the monetisation techniques present in some popular games. The legislators got involved after Belgium's Gaming Commission had, following the Battlefront II farrago, looked at the area and decided that FIFA, Overwatch, and CS:GO's microtransactions could be considered games of chance and, therefore, should be subject to Belgian gaming law.

Today EA's FIFA website posted a statement (spotted by Eurogamer) in which the publisher announced, as of January 31st 2019, it will stop the sale of FIFA Ultimate Team points in Belgium.

After further discussions with the Belgian authorities, we have decided to stop offering FIFA Points for sale in Belgium. We’re working to make these changes effective in our FIFA console and PC games by January 31, 2019. This means that players in Belgium will not be able to purchase points to obtain FIFA Ultimate Team packs. Players still can access Ultimate Team and play with their existing players. All content in the game can be earned through gameplay, as has always been the case, and players can continue to use coins and the in-game transfer market. Any players in Belgium that have existing FIFA Points in their accounts can continue to use them, but they will not be able to purchase more. We apologize to our players in Belgium for any inconvenience caused by this change.

This is a pre-emptive move: Belgium has not 'banned' loot boxes (not yet at least). EA's statement goes on to say "while we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities’ interpretation of the law, and we will continue to seek more clarity on the matter as we go forward." The question is whether EA or another publisher will be the one to take this fight, because loot boxes is an area where there's a great deal of opinion but, outside of Asia, not much in the way of legal precedent.

At least the Belgian Gaming Commission seems a little more equipped to handle this issue than the UK's equivalent. Our Gambling Commission has, somewhat unfairly, been landed with the job of looking at these areas of modern gaming, and it doesn't have a Scooby.

EA ended its statement with the kind of shade that only a giant unfeeling corporation could throw: "The impact of this change to FIFA Ultimate Team in Belgium is not material to our financial performance."

Chalk another one up to those Brussels bureaucrats.