The Ultimate Pack has been a controversial part of FIFA titles for some time now as critics have likened it to gambling as it involved real-world money. Now, an Austrian court has ruled that the microtransaction violates the country’s law on games of chance.
A court in Hermagor, Austria has ruled that FIFA Ultimate Team packs are a form of gambling and in violation of the law. The court has ordered Sony to refund several plaintiffs who "gambled away" over €400 on the popular microtransaction.
According to a report by Games Wirtschaft, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of gamers who felt that the system was unfair and did not comply with Austria’s strict regulations on gambling. The court has sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that the randomness of the Ultimate Team pack constituted a violation of the Austrian Gaming Act.
Sony has been ordered to refund gamers named in the lawsuit a total of €338.26. The company has not yet responded to the ruling.
The FIFA Ultimate Team pack has been a part of the football video game franchise for over a decade, encouraging players to purchase several packs to form the strongest team possible. The controversy comes with the difficulty of forming these said teams. Gamers often spend a huge chunk of real-world currency before completing their dream lineup.
The first country to rule FUT packs as gambling was the Netherlands as the country's government fined EA €500,000 for every week it sold loot boxes on its popular football game. The decision was overturned sometime later, but the move has empowered regulatory bodies throughout the region. The United Kingdom refused to pass legislation to regulate the use of loot boxes. However, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has reminded gaming companies that it will "will not hesitate to consider legislation if companies do not bring in sufficient measures to keep players safe." The DCMS suggests in its findings that the companies self-regulate and add safeguards to keep microtransactions away from young gamers.
EA, for its part, defended the FUT, saying that it has been a part of the video game series for over a decade and players love it. The company also said that microtransactions are completely optional. According to EA, most players do not spend real money on FUT packs and nine out of ten loot boxes opened in FIFA 22 were earned.
It will be interesting to see if this controversial trend will continue with the release of the first EA Sports FC title after the company cut ties with FIFA. FIFA is currently looking for partners for its future football games.