EA Sports has announced that as of January 31st, 2019 players residing in Belgium will no longer be able to purchase FIFA Points. This is a longstanding issue with the Belgium government which considers “loot boxes” the primary use for FIFA Points as a form of gambling and thus subject to the laws governing gaming.
Other developers such as Valve had already disabled “loot boxes” in Belgium, but EA had hung on in an attempt to negotiate with the Belgian authorities. These discussions have ultimately proved fruitless, and EA has no choice but to suspend “loot boxes” in the territory.
With FIFA 19, EA had made efforts to bring a level of transparency to their systems with the introduction of odds when buying packs but this seemed to have little sway with the Belgian government with EA releasing a statement that made clear their displeasure.
“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. ”
Regarding current players and their FIFA Ultimate Team EA had this to say, “Players still can access Ultimate Team and play with their existing players. […] players can continue to use coins and the in-game transfer market. Any players in Belgium that have existing FIFA Points in their accounts can continue to use them, but they will not be able to purchase more.
No FIFA Points In Belgium – The Impact on the Competitive Game
We spoke to Gilles after EA took the decision to disable FIFA Points and he felt that other countries should follow suit or EA should look to give, “All verified players next year an unlocked account.” because at the moment, “Belgian players will have a big disadvantage.”
How much of a disadvantage current professional players will have is debatable. Players will be allowed to keep their current players after the 31st of January and once qualified for a tournament any in-game player can be picked for your squad.
The real impact will be on those starting out, with Belgian players unable to buy packs, qualification in the early part of the season will be very difficult – stifling the country’s potential on the international scene.
What do you think of this decision? Will other countries follow suit? And will Belgian players struggle to qualify for the major tournaments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.