Two Paris lawyers have filed lawsuits against Electronic Arts regarding their very popular FIFA video game series, arguing that its Ultimate Team mode should be labeled as a form of gambling. They are representing clients who’ve allegedly spent hundreds of Euros in that mode.
The FIFA game series has been a serious moneymaker of EA’s for years, and much of that revenue comes from its wildly popular Ultimate Team mode.
In FUT, players earn and buy packs of cards that feature the current and past great football stars, and either plug them into their roster or sell them on an auction-style transfer market.
But two lawyers are arguing that FIFA Ultimate Team should be classified as gambling in France, and are taking EA to court over the matter.
Karim Morand-Lahouazi and Victor Zagury are arguing on behalf of players they believe are at risk of gambling addiction, according to French sport newspaper L’Équipe, saying that FUT should be labeled as gambling. They are representing a client that has supposedly spent “€600 in five months without ever getting a big player.”
Their client says the best player he’s ever acquired is Napoli’s Kostas Monolas, who he claims he doesn’t even know. He said of buying packs: “You quickly become addicted to this game… whenever I buy a pack, I tell myself that this is the last time, but I always do it again. You get so frustrated when you don’t get good enough players that you buy again and again.”
The client also says that people he knows have spent €2000 or €3000 on packs, and that he himself has fallen behind on rent payments because of purchasing packs.
The lawyers said that “buying packs is nothing more than a bet. It is the logic of a casino that has entered their homes.” The two brought up regulations in countries like The Netherlands and Belgium, where loot boxes can only be opened if earned from gameplay, and cannot be purchased.
If similar restrictive laws were passed in France, it could potentially see French players only able to open player packs that they’ve either earned by playing Ultimate Team, or by spending gold they earned by playing.
FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode brings in hundreds of millions of dollars globally each month. In the first half of the financial year 2020, it earned $716 million, and that’s up from the year prior. A big portion of that can be attributed to its dedicated legion of content creators, who fill sites like YouTube and Twitch with mass unpacking videos.