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UK House Says FIFA Ultimate Team Is Gambling

July 16, 2020

- Grant Whittington

The debate pertaining to whether or not EA’s FIFA Ultimate Team should really be classified as a full-on gambling game is one that has been raging on for nearly a decade now. Tying in of course with several similar questions around the re-categorization as gambling games all those games offering for sale loot boxes and other controversial in-game virtual assets. Paying to win quite frankly doesn’t sit all too comfortably with the gaming community in general.

Just to recap again on how exactly a loot box functions: a loot box is a virtual asset of which the value and the content aren’t known to the buyer beforehand. The result is that many players will end up spending thousands of pounds buying more and more loot boxes until the desired items or assets are found. Game publishers, EA not excluded, do not typically offer any indication of the expected value of a loot box. Which all in all makes it a gamble as to what a player can expect to find inside.

A Push For Control

Which really explains why the House of Lords Gambling Committee is now more determined than ever before to regulate loot boxes and microtransactions in general according to the provisions of the country’s gambling laws. If this particular push were to be passed into law, then loot boxes and microtransactions will become subject to the Gambling Act of 2005.

The committee’s report plays heavily on the look and feel of gambling as shadowed by loot boxes. What the committee is essentially saying is that if it looks and feels like gambling, then it probably is exactly that – gambling.

House Wants Instant Change

But not only does the report suggest the reclassification of loot boxes and other micro-transactions to fall under the same regulations governing real-money gambling games, but the House is also furthermore pushing for instant ratification. This essentially means a push for immediate regulation and control.

Lord Grade, who is the chairman of the committee, recently commented on the controversial debate around specifically the game published by EA. He referred to how several other countries  had already classified the game as a gambling-game because of those countries having already early on identified the dangers associated with loot boxes and all manners of microtransactions.

Despite the country’s existing 2005 Gambling Act according to Grade lagging “way behind”, he called on government to act swiftly and immediately, adding that most of what is contained in the House’s report does not require any changes to actual legislation in order to be implemented. Immediate action, said Grade, is therefore entirely possible.

No Conclusion In Sight

But, as mentioned earlier on, the raging debate surrounding EA’s FIFA Ultimate Team isn’t exactly new or eye-opening stuff. Today one of the most popular football video games on the market, the game requires the player to put together the ultimate football dream-team using virtual player-packs. And, it needs to be said for the sake of context, putting together a team – any team – doesn’t exactly come cheap.

The controversy surrounding the game  has now progressed all the way to the point of formal litigation in a French court of law. A formal claimant argued in February that FIFA Ultimate Team is essentially misclassified, and that instead of the game being advertised as an online video game, it really should be sold as an online gambling game.

EA is in the meantime sticking to its story of the developer having no ethical concerns whatsoever about the game and the sale of virtual player-packs at a potentially sky-high cost to potentially under-age players.

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