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EA backs down over loot boxes in Belgium

"While we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities' interpretation of the law," says publisher

Electronic Arts has backed down over loot boxes in Belgium, announcing it will cease the sale of FIFA Points in the country.

In May last year, the Belgian Gaming Commission found that loot boxes constitute gambling under current legislation, and recommended criminal prosecution against any companies which continued to operate the mechanic in their games.

While Blizzard and Valve quickly closed up shop, followed several mobile developers, EA looked as though it was going to take the issue to court.

However the publisher has since confirmed it will stop offering FIFA Points for sale in Belgium, following further discussions with the authorities.

The changes will be come into effect for all FIFA games on PC and console by January 31, 2019.

While players will still be able to earn in-game rewards through gameplay, they will no longer be able to buy FIFA Points for real-world money to exchange for loot boxes.

Players with any existing FIFA Points in their accounts can continue to use them, but will be unable to buy more.

In a statement released this week, EA apologised to players in Belgium for "any inconvenience caused by this change".

"We seek to bring choice, fairness, value and fun to our players in all our games," said the publisher.

"In addition to providing players options in how they play, we include pack probabilities in our games for the transparency players want to make informed content choices.

"While we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities' interpretation of the law, and we will continue to seek more clarity on the matter as we go forward."

"The impact of this change to FIFA Ultimate Team in Belgium is not material to our financial performance."

There is no indication how this decision will affect other games in EA's catalogue which employ similar monetisation methods. GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to the publisher for comment.

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