Gaming giant EA is removing FIFA Points, a form of virtual currency for the franchise’s lucrative Ultimate Team mode, across all titles from the franchise in Belgium following the country’s crackdown on loot boxes. In a blog post, EA said it came to the decision to remove FIFA Points following «discussions with the Belgian authorities.»
The FIFA Points will be removed from all FIFA games on console and PC by the end of January, EA said. While FIFA Points will no longer be purchasable for Ultimate Team, people can still of course play Ultimate Team; going forward, all extra content can only be unlocked through gameplay. This was always the case, as the FIFA Points were available as an option for players who wanted to unlock new content faster. The game’s other in-game currency, coins, along with the transfer market, will remain up and running in the wake of this news.
Gamers in Belgium will get to keep any unspent FIFA points, but, as mentioned, they will no longer be available to buy more. «We apologize to our players in Belgium for any inconvenience caused by this change,» EA said.
With all of its games, EA said its goal is to provide players with «choice, fairness, value, and fun.»
EA also pointed out that franchises like FIFA and others with loot box mechanics contain systems that display probability figures. EA removing loot boxes from FIFA might seem like the company is taking a stance against loot boxes, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. EA said previously that loot boxes are not gambling, and the company doubled down on this in its new statement.
«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,» EA said.
On the investor side, EA said it doesn’t expect the removal of loot boxes to having a «material» impact on the company’s financial performance. That may be true because Belgium is a small country relative to other places; the potential worry for investors is that this announcement might lead to more widespread changes in other countries that EA operates in.
Loot boxes and Ultimate Team are very big business for EA. Across all of its sports games, EA’s Ultimate Team revenue came in at close to $1 billion in 2017, according to GI.biz.
In 2018, Belgium’s Gambling Commission announced that loot boxes constitute a game of chance, and were therefore subject to the country’s gambling laws. Blizzard swiftly removed loot boxes from Overwatch in Belgium, but EA had taken longer to make the change.
The conversation about loot boxes in video games is not ending anytime soon, so be sure to keep checking back with GameSpot for more.