Electronic Arts and European countries are getting along right now like peanut butter and vinegar. Loot boxes for the company’s games, most notably the ultra-successful FIFA series, have been under scrutiny by governments in the UK and Belgium — and the Netherlands have outright banned them — and now a lawsuit in France is targeting the lucrative franchise.
GFFN — which stands for Get French Football News, a site I never thought I’d be referencing on MMOBomb — has the details of the suit in English, which come from French site L’Équipe. In the suit, lawyer Victor Zagury alleges that “a gambling game has been integrated into this video game” and “there is no parental control system in this mode.”
Zagury’s client is a 32-year-old chauffeur who said that he spent €600 (about $660) on packs over five months and the best player he received, Kostas Manolas, is someone he “didn’t even know.” He claims to have put so much money into the game that he’s behind on his rent payments and that he knows people who have “put in €2,000 or €3,000 it’s crazy.”
The suit also seeks to learn more about “the algorithm which generates the distribution of player cards in packs.”
If I had to guess, I’d say that this suit isn’t likely to significantly move the needle on the legality of loot boxes. The relatively small amount of money involved, combined with the fact that the plaintiff is a gainfully employed adult, as opposed to a child who put a five-digit charge on his parent’s credit card, makes the whole thing a pretty low-stakes game. (And can we wonder for a moment how said employed adult could spend an average of $132 month and that’s enough to make him fall behind on his rent payments?) At most, maybe it will be another data point for the Gaming Regulation Authority in France, which said it was analyzing loot boxes back in 2018.
Additionally, if EA was somehow forced to refund the man’s money, it would open the floodgates for everyone who didn’t receive the players they wanted in their packs to receive the same treatment. And getting “the algorithm which generates the distribution of player cards in packs”? Well, just wait until the end of the year, and that will surely be revealed to all, right? Right?