An Austrian court ruled that Sony must refund FIFA players because Ultimate Team packs violate the nation’s gambling laws.
Sports video games are under fire for microtransaction practices. NBA 2K23 players flamed the developers for “greedy” monetization, forcing players to spend over $100 to upgrade a character. Similarly, Madden 23 community members banded together and boycotted “underwhelming” loot boxes.
EA was hit with a class-action lawsuit in Canada in 2020, specifically targeting NHL 21 and Madden 21 for operating an “illegal” gambling system. In the same year, a court in the Netherlands ruled that FIFA UItimate Team packs were a form of gambling, ordered EA to remove them from FIFA, and issued a potential fine of $10.9 million.
In 2022, the Dutch court reversed the ruling and eliminated the massive fine. FIFA players returned to the drawing board and attacked “illegal gambling” from a different angle.
FIFA loot boxes violate gambling laws
GamesIndustry.biz reported, “An Austrian court has ruled that loot boxes in FIFA violate the nation’s gambling laws and have demanded that affected players be refunded.”
Instead of filing a lawsuit against EA, a group of PlayStation-owning FIFA players targeted Sony because the loot boxes were purchased through the PlayStation store.
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“More than 1,000 FIFA users have been in contact with the company with claims of around $854, although some extreme cases go up to $97,000.”
The district court of Hermagor classified FIFA Ultimate Team packs as illegal gambling because “players’ ability to sell cards on a secondary market mean it’s possible to make a profit, given the randomized items some level of financial value.”
In FIFA, players can purchase packs and then sell players pulled from those packs on the Ultimate Team market for in-game currency.
Sony was ordered to refund payments of $361.31 but can appeal the decision before the verdict is finalized.
We will provide an update when the court reaches a decision.