Earlier this year, the Belgian government declared that micro-transactions such as loot boxes in Video Games were a predatory form of gambling and should be banned from their country, forcing game publishers to either remove them from their games or stop selling such games. Unfortunately for EA, the publisher did not adhere to these demands and is now facing legal consequences for including them in "FIFA 19."

The Belgian government's ruling

Last year, the Belgian Gaming Commission launched an investigation into the inclusion of loot boxes in some games, including "FIFA 18," "Overwatch," "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive," and "Star Wars: Battlefront II." The last title was of particular interest following the controversial decision by its publisher -- EA -- to allow the loot boxes to contain items with pay-to-win features that tipped the scale for those playing in competitive online matches.

In April 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission ruled that loot boxes were predatory in nature, especially for younger players unfamiliar with engaging in a game of chance in video games. Therefore, these games would no longer be sold in Belgian markets as long as they contained such micro-transactions.

How EA took it

Following the decision by the Belgian government, it seemed game publishers had no other choice but to remove loot boxes from their games being sold in the country. However, EA seemed to disagree with the ruling, claiming that its micro-transaction systems were not a game of chance due to having specified parameters like fixed item counts and types, and should still be included in their games -- as explained by EA CEO Andrew Wilson during an earnings call held in May.


EA's risky decision to leave loot boxes intact within "FIFA 19" and face legal action from Belgium shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone given the publisher's reliance on micro-transactions in their major competitive titles. The biggest example of this was "Star Wars: Battlefront II" which retained the loot boxes, though the pay-to-win items were swapped with cosmetic items, removing the pay-to-win element.

While this system remains controversial given that additional paid content is being added to video games that already retail at full price, EA can still justify their reliance on loot boxes -- they have generated significant revenue for the company each quarter.

What do you think? Should loot boxes be allowed in games?