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News EA fined €10m over loot boxes as Dutch court sides with gambling authority

Falcs

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https://www.gamesindustry.biz/artic...-as-dutch-court-sides-with-gambling-authority


A Netherlands District Court this week ruled against Electronic Arts in a case over FIFA loot boxes, allowing the Netherlands Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit, or Ksa) to proceed in fining the publisher €10 million for violating the country's Betting and Gaming Act.

"The Ksa believes it is crucial to shield vulnerable groups, such as minors, from exposure to gambling," the regulator explained. "For that reason, the Ksa supports a strict separation between gaming and gambling. Gamers are often young and therefore particularly susceptible to developing an addiction. As such, gambling elements have no place in games."
...

The EA fine was originally imposed last October, but EA contested both the fine and the Ksa's desire to reveal them to the public. The three-judge panel ruled against the publisher on both fronts, permitting the Ksa to levy the maximum allowable fine of €5 million to Electronic Arts and a second maximum fine to Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl, and to announce them as well.

According to the judgment, EA argued that FIFA loot boxes would not count as gambling under the Betting and Gaming Act because FIFA Ultimate Team packs (loot boxes) don't offer items of value because they cannot be directly converted into money, that FIFA is inherently a game of skill rather than chance, and that there is no scientific evidence linking the opening of Ultimate Team packs to gambling addiction.

The court was unswayed by those arguments
, noting that there are ways for people to profit from Ultimate Team cards that can be valued at nearly €2,000, and that people can ignore the proper FIFA gameplay and "play" the Ultimate Team packs as their own sort of game.

As for the lack of scientific proof, the judges ruled it not necessary that every new game of chance be proven to cause problems, because the Betting and Gaming Act is based on the assumption that games of chance carry with them a risk of gambling addiction. They also pointed to an increasing body of scientific research and experts warning about loot boxes, as well as reports made to the Ksa by individuals who had been affected by them.

...

"The game's providers are the parties that decided to include a gambling game within the game, thereby breaking the law," it said. "The Ksa has pointed this out to Electronic Arts Inc. and Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl repeatedly. Electronic Arts Inc. and Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl are therefore itself responsible for changing the game such that it is no longer in contravention of the law. How exactly it accomplishes this is at their discretion."

EA has six weeks to appeal the decision.

Update: An EA representative has provided the following statement to GamesIndustry.biz: "Players all over the world have enjoyed FIFA and the FIFA Ultimate Team mode for many years and as such, we are disappointed by this decision and what it may mean for our Dutch community. We do not believe that our products and services violate gambling laws in any way. We are appealing this decision and we seek to avoid a situation impacting the ability of Dutch players to fully experience and enjoy FIFA Ultimate Team.

"Electronic Arts is deeply committed to positive play. We seek to bring choice, fairness, value and fun to all our players in all of our games. We remain open to discussions with the Netherlands Gambling Authority and other stakeholders to understand and explore solutions to address any concerns."




Fuckin SUCK IT, EA!
 
Mar 23, 2018
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So are mmo's also considered loot boxes then?

because the Betting and Gaming Act is based on the assumption that games of chance carry with them a risk of gambling addiction. They also pointed to an increasing body of scientific research and experts warning about loot boxes, as well as reports made to the Ksa by individuals who had been affected by them
 

bitbydeath

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I for one, hold people responsible rather than the companies on this one.




:)

Unfortunately there is no way to go after them though. At least with going after EA they can either stop the practice or drown in fines until bankruptcy.
 

Falcs

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I for one, hold people responsible rather than the companies on this one.
developers should be allowed to do whatever they want with loot boxes

learn some personal responsibility
I don't disagree with you both, but loot boxes themselves are still shit. They negatively impact the quality of games. So I'm 100% in support for anything that combats them.
 

IFireflyl

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developers should be allowed to do whatever they want with loot boxes

learn some personal responsibility

You didn't read the article or the other article it links to, did you?

Under Dutch law, a game of chance that allows a prize or premium to be won can only be provided if a relevant licence has been granted.

"The Ksa believes it is crucial to shield vulnerable groups, such as minors, from exposure to gambling," the regulator explained. "For that reason, the Ksa supports a strict separation between gaming and gambling. Gamers are often young and therefore particularly susceptible to developing an addiction. As such, gambling elements have no place in games."

The issue is that there was already a gambling law in place, and they are protecting vulnerable groups from having easy access to an addictive lifestyle (gambling). No one cares about your ability/inability to buy loot boxes. It isn't relevant to the subject matter.

Your logic: "Developers should be allowed to put child pornography in their games. Learn some personal responsibility."
 
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Tesseract

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You didn't read the article or the other article it links to, did you?





The issue is that there was already a gambling law in place, and they are protecting vulnerable groups from having easy access to an addictive lifestyle (gambling). No one cares about your ability/inability to buy loot boxes. It isn't relevant to the subject matter.

Your logic: "Developers should be allowed to put child pornography in their games. Learn some personal responsibility."
the parents are responsible
 

MrFunSocks

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You didn't read the article or the other article it links to, did you?





The issue is that there was already a gambling law in place, and they are protecting vulnerable groups from having easy access to an addictive lifestyle (gambling). No one cares about your ability/inability to buy loot boxes. It isn't relevant to the subject matter.

Your logic: "Developers should be allowed to put child pornography in their games. Learn some personal responsibility."
You might need to do some reading yourself - they, and many others, argue that there is no "prize" in loot boxes because nothing in them has any real world monetary value.

People need to take personal responsibility. No matter how much you spend on loot boxes, the outcome is always the same - you never win any money, ever. You are just spending money on digital items that have literally zero real world value. Without that potential for real world monetary gain, most countries agree that there is nothing being gambled. All you're doing is buying a product.
 
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synce

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People repeatedly and addictively paying real world money to roll the dice is not gambling because the prizes are imaginary. I see. In other words, companies taking advantage of legal loopholes because the people making the laws are too old to understand your Nintendos.
 

Max_Po

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Karma ... after Anthem...



Amen...
 

RedVIper

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I don't get it.

Gambling isn't ilegal there as far as I know. Why is gambling in a game leading to a fine?

I don't like lootboxes but it doesn't make much sense.
 

IDappa

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Good outcome but a shame that all the other games that use the same or similar system are not punished also.
 

Teslerum

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developers should be allowed to do whatever they want with loot boxes

learn some personal responsibility

There's personal responsibility and then there's predatory practices aimed at children. There's a reason most countries don't allow minors to gamble, yet the marketing in the video game space is aimed at them. An age group that is severely impressionable.

And from that its not far to swipe dad's credit card when he isn't looking or waste your allowance/money you have earned. Both cases which aren't really the parents fault.

1 has severe repercussions and happens constantly and 2 is a basic level of trust you have with your child. No amount of parenting can fix your child being manipulated into lying to you.
 

ZehDon

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...Without that potential for real world monetary gain, most countries agree that there is nothing being gambled. All you're doing is buying a product.
This is a pretty limited definition, and its not used legally for a reason. For example, in a casino, you don't gamble money, or gamble for money. In fact, on the floor of a casino, you won't find a single note or coin. You gamble that casino's tokens, or chips, instead. Because of these types of distinctions that have been used to try and work around regulations, you'll find most western nations include "games of chance" that result in "cash or prizes" that may or may not require "paid entry fees" in their regulations. By that definition, loot boxes are gambling. This concept you're floating of "real world monetary gain" isn't actually a real thing. To continue the casino example, in a casino, you don't actually win money. At all. You actually win tokens, or chips, that are unique to that casino. They hold no "real world monetary value". Only that specific casino will acknowledge those specific pieces of plastic as anything other than plastic. Yet, this is still considered gambling for obvious reasons.
To poke an easy hole in your statement: what specific product am I buying when I buy a loot box in a video game?
 
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Soulja

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"We seek to bring choice, fairness, value and fun to all our players in all of our games"

Fuck off. People have to spend hundreds/thousands just to pack 1 good player.
 

GymWolf

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Lol ea probably make 10 milions in half an hour, i'm sure they learned the lesson...
 

MrFunSocks

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This is a pretty limited definition, and its not used legally for a reason. For example, in a casino, you don't gamble money, or gamble for money. In fact, on the floor of a casino, you won't find a single note or coin. You gamble that casino's tokens, or chips, instead. Because of these types of distinctions that have been used to try and work around regulations, you'll find most western nations include "games of chance" that result in "cash or prizes" that may or may not require "paid entry fees" in their regulations. By that definition, loot boxes are gambling. This concept you're floating of "real world monetary gain" isn't actually a real thing. To continue the casino example, in a casino, you don't actually win money. At all. You actually win tokens, or chips, that are unique to that casino. They hold no "real world monetary value". Only that specific casino will acknowledge those specific pieces of plastic as anything other than plastic. Yet, this is still considered gambling for obvious reasons.
To poke an easy hole in your statement: what specific product am I buying when I buy a loot box in a video game?
It is actually in the legal definition of gambling in most places - the chance to win money or something of real world value.

The casino chip example doesn’t work because those chips have real world monetary value. You take them to the casino cashier and they give you money for them. You cannot take a fortnite skin anywhere and get real world money for them.

When you buy a loot box in a video game you are paying for a random selection of digital items from a set of possible items. That’s it. None of them are worth any money, there’s never a “prize”. That’s why most countries have determined that they’re not gambling.
 

10101

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Lol ea probably make 10 milions in half an hour, i'm sure they learned the lesson...
Was my first thought too, this is literally nothing to them.

I can understand people getting pissed off with loot boxes (I’m not a fan myself) but in my mind they are no different to buying stickers or toys from a £1 machine. You don’t know what your are getting, but you are getting something, a product. Do I want my kids buying these loot boxes? No, but then that’s my job as a parent to educate and ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s not even close to gambling in my opinion, but I still would rather they weren’t in games!
 
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TheSHEEEP

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No, but then that’s my job as a parent to educate and ensure that doesn’t happen.
That isn't a realistic option, though.
Kids are kids and will do stupid, irresponsible shit no matter how well you educate. Likewise, you cannot hover over them 24/7 to control their every move to make sure they don't buy loot boxes.

The best way is really to force game devs & publishers to implement a proper age verification (and not just "click here if you're 18+" lol) - or just stop the practice entirely (nothing of value will be lost).
 
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ZehDon

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It is actually in the legal definition of gambling in most places - the chance to win money or something of real world value...
You keep referring to "real world value". That's not a term that's used anywhere in relation to gambling. Gambling in most places is defined as "risking something of value for a chance to receive something of value". Value is not defined as a trade-able commodity - in fact, most prizes one wins in legal gambling are conditionally non-transferable and are considered void upon transfer - nor is it limited to legal tender; exchangeable currency. You need to educate yourself here.

The casino chip example doesn’t work because those chips have real world monetary value. You take them to the casino cashier and they give you money for them.
You're mixing terms, playing fast and lose with the wording. We're talking about specifics, so let's get specifics. "Real world value", "real world monetary value". These are not real terms and have no specific meaning. Let's get specific.
And my casino example is entirely valid; chips are not legal tender and they have no have inherent value. The casino that issues them honours the value they ascribe to the chip - there is no law that stipulates, maintains, or controls that worth. Take it outside of the casino, and it is worthless. It has no value, except to the company that issues it.

You cannot take a fortnite skin anywhere and get real world money for them.
Ask yourself "why can't I do this?" And the answer is quite simple: Epic doesn't allow it, because it prevents them from controlling access to said skins. Why buy a loot box from Epic to gamble for my skin, when I could just buy it for $10.00 on eBay? And so, this is done to maintain the value of said skins to Epic who sells them. Much like the casino chips, they're only worth something to the company that issues them if the company is the only one that issues them. If something can be inherently devalued, such as if I could trade and/or sell my skins, then it must therefore inherently have value. Your argument doesn't hold up.

When you buy a loot box in a video game you are paying for a random selection of digital items from a set of possible items. That’s it. None of them are worth any money, there’s never a “prize”. That’s why most countries have determined that they’re not gambling.
So, I'm risking my money for a chance to get a skin that I may want, and thus the skin holds value? That's gambling. The skin is the prize, the money is the entry fee. And falling back on the in-doubt-and-currently-in-question legal definitions to bolster your definition of gambling isn't wise. You're arguing that countries don't consider it gambling, so it's not gambling... in a thread about a country that decided its gambling.
When "most countries" catch up and change the legal classification of loot boxes to gambling, will you then admit that your argument is flawed? If yes, then you're above argumentation is entirely null and void; you're just agreeing with the law, right or wrong, which is malleable. If no, then why bother mention the currently legal definition at all?
 

Spukc

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EA also argued that the Ksa's decision forbidding FIFA Ultimate Team packs in their prior form violated EA rights to property and freedom of expression.

get fucked get fucked get fucked get fucked
get fucked
get fucked
get fucked
 

Tesseract

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Personal responsibility is not mutually exclusive with law and regulations
i want them to go even harder and make a competitive fps where i can buy bullets and gamble whatever on matches

each their own, i see the other side of the argument but vehemently disagree with any kind of regulation
 

Tesseract

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There's personal responsibility and then there's predatory practices aimed at children. There's a reason most countries don't allow minors to gamble, yet the marketing in the video game space is aimed at them. An age group that is severely impressionable.

And from that its not far to swipe dad's credit card when he isn't looking or waste your allowance/money you have earned. Both cases which aren't really the parents fault.

1 has severe repercussions and happens constantly and 2 is a basic level of trust you have with your child. No amount of parenting can fix your child being manipulated into lying to you.
it's still the parent's fault in cases where children are swiping their card, maybe raise your kids so they don't do that kinda thing

shit parents who cannot keep their children in line are the problem
 

Tesseract

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I don't get it.

Gambling isn't ilegal there as far as I know. Why is gambling in a game leading to a fine?

I don't like lootboxes but it doesn't make much sense.
because the people at the top are a bunch of sour and crusty bitches who prolly got some shit kids that ran wild with accounts and racked ungodly bills
 

FunkMiller

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If EA and Ubisoft went under tomorrow, the video games industry would be immeasurably better.
 
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Tesseract

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on the flip side, any kind of pay to win system should be condemned so fuck ea for going down that route

apex legends does it right, fortnite, others
 

notseqi

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because the people at the top are a bunch of sour and crusty bitches who prolly got some shit kids that ran wild with accounts and racked ungodly bills
Reason for the initial complaint might have been unsupervised kids going to town on a poor Visa-Card but the Gambling accusation was the easiest to push through to further 'their' cause. This complaint could have come by a simple consumer watchdog-type agency that analysed a question put to them by one of EAs customers. Services of these agencies are usually for free in the EU and acts as mediation before legal steps are taken, basically 'whats my recourse here?'. Customer asks, Agency answers 'we don't really know whats possible here', Customer goes home, Agency follows up.
Hypothetical but plausible.

What do you think about this: If EA wants to sell their game in the EU and have a gambling mechanic in the game, they can. Make the game 18+, apply for a license in gambling like anybody else offering the opportunity to win big, or nothing at all.

on the flip side, any kind of pay to win system should be condemned so fuck ea for going down that route

apex legends does it right, fortnite, others
Fully with you on that. Have a good product and you'll get your whales.
I'll even buy shit I won't use (or gift it away if possible) to support your F2P game.
 
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Tesseract

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Reason for the initial complaint might have been unsupervised kids going to town on a poor Visa-Card but the Gambling accusation was the easiest to push through to further 'their' cause. This complaint could have come by a simple consumer watchdog-type agency that analysed a question put to them by one of EAs customers. Services of these agencies are usually for free in the EU and acts as mediation before legal steps are taken, basically 'whats my recourse here?'. Customer asks, Agency answers 'we don't really know whats possible here', Customer goes home, Agency follows up.
Hypothetical but plausible.

What do you think about this: If EA wants to sell their game in the EU and have a gambling mechanic in the game, they can. Make the game 18+, apply for a license in gambling like anybody else offering the opportunity to win big, or nothing at all.


Fully with you on that. Have a good product and you'll get your whales.
I'll even buy shit I won't use (or gift it away if possible) to support your F2P game.
i'm fine with all that but generally want for less walls and regulation, not more

maybe some parental controls for this stuff would help, don't even give kids the option to look at purchasables

otherwise yeah, 18+ with a license would be fine
 
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Tesseract

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there's a few definitions of gambling, the primary definition involves playing games of chance for money

i think we can all agree that's a gamble, things get slipper when money is exchanged on risky actions in the hope of desired results, which is often the case with loot boxes or stat boosts

age restrictions and licenses would be fine, like notseqi notseqi mentioned above, alleviating the headache of racked bills and consumer complaints
 
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notseqi

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i'm fine with all that but generally want for less walls and regulation, not more

maybe some parental controls for this stuff would help, don't even give kids the option to look at purchasables

otherwise yeah, 18+ with a license would be fine
Definitely parental controls. If a 4-digit PIN system worked for our TV in the 90s, why does it not work here?
 

Tesseract

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Definitely parental controls. If a 4-digit PIN system worked for our TV in the 90s, why does it not work here?
absolutely, i'm on board with that

parental controls have waned these last generations, needs significant overhaul
 

10101

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That isn't a realistic option, though.
Kids are kids and will do stupid, irresponsible shit no matter how well you educate. Likewise, you cannot hover over them 24/7 to control their every move to make sure they don't buy loot boxes.

The best way is really to force game devs & publishers to implement a proper age verification (and not just "click here if you're 18+" lol) - or just stop the practice entirely (nothing of value will be lost).
It’s very realistic, I do it lol. You don’t need to hover over them checking what they are buying, my kids get an allowance but their accounts are tied to mine. I know what they are buying, they know I know, etc, etc. Vetting your kids purchases is basic parenting, so calling it unrealistic is odd. I agree nothing of value would be lost though, loot boxes are shit.
 
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notseqi

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It’s very realistic, I do it lol. You don’t need to hover over them checking what they are buying, my kids get an allowance but their accounts are tied to mine. I know what they are buying, they know I know, etc, etc. Vetting your kids purchases is basic parenting, so calling it unrealistic is odd. I agree nothing of value would be lost though, loot boxes are shit.
But it's a lot of work and I don't want to engage with my kids! Hand me my smartphone, I need to check what other people are doing.
 
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