Court demands full refunds for all Austrian FUT players
The controversial and highly lucrative FIFA Ultimate Team system is in hot water once again — This time, the trouble comes from an Austrian court, which has officially ruled that the microtransaction-based digital card collector violates the nation’s gambling laws.
As reported by German news outlet GamesWirtschaft, the verdict comes at the end of a 2022 lawsuit that was filed against Sony Interactive Entertainment by a group of PlayStation FIFA players. The suit is directed at Sony rather than FIFA publisher Electronic Arts because the FUT packs were purchased on the PlayStation Network, which makes the sales contract with Sony, and not with EA itself.
The court decreed that players being able to sell FUT cards on a secondary market added elements of value to many randomized items. The court argued that this action gives FUT players the opportunity to access a profit margin for their randomly accessed products, which is what violates Austria’s gambling laws. As such, the court has ordered Sony to refund Austrian FIFA players who have made FUT purchases on PlayStation Network.
Padronus, a law firm specializing in recovering losses from online casinos, reports that over 1000 FIFA players have contacted them looking for compensation, with individual purchases ranging from three to five figures. It seems, however, that there is a cap on the amount Sony will have to refund any one player, and it should also be noted that Sony has the option to appeal the verdict, which it most likely will.
Since its initial inception in 2018, FIFA Ultimate Team has been both lucrative and controversial. The mechanic has faced up to legal scrutiny time and again — especially in the European court system, while EA came under heavy fire back in after it was discovered employees had been selling highly sought-after FUT items “under-the-table”, in what was unimaginatively dubbed “EAgate”. Despite the headaches, EA has remained steadfast in its decision to keep the FUT system live and kicking, and given that it has raked in somewhere in the region of $1.5 million USD every year since its launch, it is unlikely to pull the plug until forced.
Austrian court rules that FIFA loot boxes violate gambling laws [GamesIndustry.biz]