EA is reportedly under criminal investigation by the Belgian authorities as the publisher has seemingly refused to take loot boxes out of its games.
The relationship between game publishers and Belgium has been a fraught one of late. Valve, Blizzard and 2K have all somewhat reluctantly removed loot boxes from their games in the country after it was ruled the monetization model constituted gambling. Each has complied to the law but has iterated that they don’t believe they are gambling, with 2K even asking players to write to the government to allow them again.
However, EA seems unmoved by new laws and appears ready to stand its ground. According to Metro Belgium (via Eurogamer), a “criminal investigation” has been opened by the Belgian government into the publisher as EA has not stopped the sale of loot boxes in games like FIFA 18. If the government decides to enforce the law and prosecute, the issue will go to court. That would be a huge moment for the discussion of loot boxes across the world and would likely affect their future implementation.
It’s not exactly clear what EA’s plan is as thus far, it has not released a statement, but it seems the company is prepared to go all the way on this issue. Right now, EA seems to be holding firm against Belgian authorities, with any clash being a trial itself. That trial would set a lot of legal precedence in the future and thus would be very important in monetisation of games post-launch around the world. Seeing how this develops should be very interesting.