In recent years EA’s FIFA The series has been the subject of numerous investigations and government hearings across Europe. Some countries feared that the game’s flagship Ultimate Team mode was basically a gamble, while others were convinced it was and took action.
Belgium is perhaps the most famous examplebut earlier this year An Austrian court also ruled that the market for FIFA’s Ultimate Team card packs constituted illegal gambling. Not much more was said about the decision at the time, but a report by German website Gamesmarkt (via GI.biz) that Sony has not appealed the decision shows that the judgment is now associated with costs.
While details on the case itself cannot be released, Gamesmarkt reports that Sony must now reimburse the plaintiff €336.26 ($364) in the 2022 case. That might not sound like much, but it’s just the initial cost; Padronus, the law firm handling the case, says they have “several hundred” other clients waiting in line and given the decision in that first case, there is now precedent for them being able to be granted a refund as well.
If you’re wondering why Sony has to do this and not Electronic Arts – the actual developers and publishers of the game – it’s because the transactions in this particular case were made on the PlayStation Store, making Sony liable. However, given the court ruling, one might assume it would be easy to apply the same rules to selling the game – and its FIFA Ultimate Team packs – on any other platform it’s available on, from Xbox to PC.
The ultimate team of FIFA is an extremely popular online mode that allows users to open virtual card packs and add the randomly inserted players to their team. The fact that you pay for the decks and that the content is random and unknown to the player is the main reason so many governments have either decided this is gambling, or are about to do so.