Electronic Arts (EA) has let pass a €10.8k (£9.2k) fine imposed by an Austrian court, which stated that the FIFA Ultimate Team packs violate the nation's gambling legislation. Despite accepting the penalty, EA maintains its disagreement with the verdict, emphasizing that it believes there has been a misunderstanding of both the facts and the law.
The case, which might appear to set a precedent, is unlikely to have a wider influence according to GamesIndustry.biz. This is because Austrian courts examine every case on an individual basis, and their impacts need not apply to subsequent cases. An EA representative stated that they would not challenge this 'narrow decision’, but stand firm in their belief that their games are not tantamount to gambling and comply fully with local statutes.
The matter at hand pertains to the FIFA Ultimate Team packs which offer random chances at footballers, and this has been a point of contention for some time now. Various countries worldwide are scrutinizing the impact of these pack purchases on players' spending. In Austria, EA has tasted both victory and defeat in similar lawsuits, with this recent loss coming from an appeal.
This case first caught attention in May, thanks to a group of PlayStation FIFA owners who initiated it. Coupled in this lawsuit was Sony who faced a verdict stating that they were liable to refund the complainants the money used to purchase FIFA packs on their platform. Sony chose to let the ruling stand, mirroring EA's preference not to contest.
The conclusion from the EA team remains steadfast: regulators and courts globally have favoured them in analogous cases, referring to one resolved by the same Austrian Regional Court that issued this decision. EA maintains its commitment to game designing that carries choice, fairness, value, and enjoyment. They are resolute on ensuring that their Austrian players have the same access to the game and its features as enjoyed by millions of other global users.