Sony has been ordered to pay refunds after an Austrian court ruled FIFA Ultimate Team a form of gambling. The controversial game mode sees players spending money on digital card packs, which include virtual footballers. These can then be traded, sold for in-game currency, or used to assemble teams, which fans can use to compete online.
But Games Wirtschaft reports that a small court in Hermagor filed in favour of several FIFA players who took Sony to court in 2020. It should be noted that PlayStation doesn’t make the football game, but it does take a cut on all transactions conducted through the PS Store, and that includes those paying for FIFA packs.
The plaintiffs, including one minor, argued that they’d gambled away €400 (~$425) in the game, and lawyer Ulrich Salburg said that the random nature of the rewards violated the country’s gambling laws. As a result, Sony has been ordered to pay back €338 (~$359) but is yet to comment on the ruling. While the sums aren’t exactly eye-watering for a company of its size, it’ll be interesting to see whether this sets a precedent for FIFA Ultimate Team moving forwards.
Obviously, the mode has been subject to much scrutiny all around the world for several years now, with various governments arguing that it’s a form of gambling. This has resulted in the feature being removed in some territories, such as the Benelux region, although it remains available – largely unchanged – in most countries.
[source gameswirtschaft.de, via videogameschronicle.com]
This seems to be why all the big corpos are moving on to the battlepass. I still don't get why people pay for the privilege to grind.
If you need to monetize your game this heavily, please just make it free to play at least.
@ATaco It makes some kind of sense if you plan on playing a game a lot anyway — why not be rewarded for it?
But then you could argue that those kinds of progression systems used to be part of a game to begin with... Maybe not to the same extent, but in concept.
Is there no gambling allowed in Austrian or is there a no gambling by minors law in Austrian? If it's a minor thing just restrict kid accounts from playing it and if a minor lies about their age, well that's on them.
Of course limiting your football game to people over 18/21 could be a problem for their pocketbooks. Gambling age is 21 in the US, like our drinking age, but the minor accounts - both my kids had them before making their own - is 18 so I suppose it could be difficult to implement for 19 + 20 year olds.🤷
So people willingly spent money ..didn't get who they wanted ...then cried they wanted their money back...? Sounds about right
It would be very interesting to see how many minors they have got hooked on the whole gambling system. I have finally quit the game after spending hours and hours of grinding and feeling worse after each game session.
You missed the most important part of the story - where Sony and EA hired people to break into the houses of the plaintiffs and put guns to their heads, thus giving them no other choice but to spend money.
Next up - selling outfits for real world money. And stick drift. Yeah they'd probably never be taken to court for that but still... annoying.
@StylesT Well yeah that makes it gambling...in a game for all ages.
I've always felt like battle passes remove the spirit of gaming by imposing time limits, demand that you keep returning to a game and play a certain allotment of hours lest you miss out on something. In some ways I consider the battle pass worse than microtransactions because in my eyes being told that you have a certain amount of time to do something feels like having a deadline at work, which winds up being a major turn off. I don't want my game time to feel like a second job, which is why I immediately avoid any games that implement battlepasses or the like.
It's a tough one, they usually bring up trading cards as a defence, which is honestly quite a powerful one.
Though FIFA is (I assume) a very competitive game where the top draws give an advantage? That probably pushes them above trading cards.
Seems odd that Sony is the one taking the fall for this.
Like why did they go after Sony and not EA since EA is the one who developed the mechanic in the game in the first place?
Also, even still, why should Sony pay the bulk of the amount when Sony only takes a small cut?
I mean, the amount is pocket change for Sony, but it's still odd.
@GamingFan4Lyf they are considered the shopkeeper I guess. I suppose it's on them to get it back from EA.
@StylesT that’s what I got from this. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely hate these games and do agree they’re a form of gambling, but these specific plaintiffs sound more bothered they didn’t get what they wanted than they are about the fact that these packs are unethical.
The hilarious thing is that these folks probably spent more on the lawsuit than they spent on the game. Talk about dedication to being angry.
@ATaco That's true, they're definitely designed to keep you "engaged", especially stuff like daily challenges etc.
It is gambling EA has been getting away with it far too long they need to be fined a huge amount for exploiting people addictions & introducing children to gambling
V I C T O R Y
More of this, please. Get all these casinos outta here. Every game with these mechanics should have been rated Adults Only decades ago. Nothing fills me with more joy than seeing these nasty leeches slowly dying out, greedy investors be damned. I suppose the battle pass is the new trend now, which at least isn't gambling.
@rjejr gambling is legal in Austria but very closely regulated, and taxed. I don’t have all the details and didn’t have the time to hunt it down but running a gambling operation in ways that hide from the law likely runs afoul of multiple laws, including tax evasion ones.
@DeathlySW don’t know how Austria works but I’m sure this is equivalent to the US small claims courts, that tend to be designed precisely with the hurdles of legal costs in mind. In the US for example, in such courts lawyers are not allowed for either party.
My wife plays Fifa, I don’t. But she doesn’t mess with ultimate team. However I play Madden and mostly play ultimate team. And honestly I have never spent money on packs. If you play a decent amount, you get pretty good rewards and currency to by packs and spend in game currency on auctions. I dunno, seems frivolous to me. You choose to spend that money. Oh well
@Would_you_kindly 100% agree..having seen first hand what gambling does and how it destroys familys and leads people to crime to support their addiction this is welcome news to me. Gambling has no place in gaming at all and just to be clear i dont see micro transactions as gambling as you can plainly see exactly what you purchase.
@ATaco the only battle pass i get is for mw2 but i use the currency i get in game through unlocks to buy the next and i never bother with the weapon or skin packs. I play a fair bit of mw2 and warzone throughout the week and mostly single player games at the weekend but the only game thats been near my ps5 as of late is hogwarts..i can see how the battle pass system can feel like a 2nd job as it does demand your time but if mw2 etc is all you play then its an added incentive..
Why not EA? I would think both would have to relinquish their share.
Anyways, good ruling. Would be great if we could get rid of this poison in video games. Casinos exist for gambling.
@Nem maybe because sony is the platform owner and would have to approve it to be included. It will be interesting to see if microsoft suffer the same fate.
Keep that rubbish out of our games!
Fair enough, I'm always jumping from game to game nowadays but if you're always playing just the one then the steady stream of unlocks that a battlepass offers can be enticing. I just wish games weren't designed to either last for years, or if they fail, for just a few months.
I'm a bit perplexed, is it illegal to sell trading cards in Austria? I can maybe see a case for minors but for anyone else it seems absurd. Surely everyone knows how trading cards work? Be they physical or virtual it's a gamble but one that seems to have been socially acceptable for decades, at least here in the UK. Go to any corner shop or newsagent you'll find various packs on the counter. Kids buy them with their pocket money.
I put a tenner on united to win ,can I have my money back please
@StylesT That simplifies it way too much. The trouble is that kids, with no real concept of value, get attracted by the potential of unlocking something they really want - because it’s marketed to be as alluring as possible (flashing lights, fireworks etc), and they’ve seen their favourite YouTubers making videos showing excitement over opening these things… these kids are getting hooked in. And luckily, because all our consoles are now always online and have card details saved to them, it’s super easy to start spending without understanding just how much you’re spending. There’s nothing in place there regulating these video games. No system from Sony ensuring you have to do a security check per purchase.
And then there’s the problem that the numbers are completely skewed…the possibilities of unlocking the thing you want are never transparent. Which is misleading at best.
@Bleachedsmiles I am sure these are adults who are claiming on their own behalf ...and as for kids ...the parents should really know better and have a password on to prevent their kids from using their cards
@StylesT the article states at least one being a minor. And let’s not pretend we’ve not all rolled our eyes at one point reading an article about kids spending loads on microtransactions.
Parents should parent their children… and we’re now well in a generation where these parents have grown up with gaming so understand what these games contain. There’s no real excuse other than bad parenting… and things always need to be put in place to protect stupid people from themselves - that’s just life.
I have a close family member who has a gambling addiction. He has finally admitted it and is seeking help much to my relief. He says that it all started with CSGo skins.
Anyone who doesn't understand why this stuff needs to be regulated hasn't seen anyone struggling with a gambling addiction. Just like any addiction it is a compulsive need that must be fulfilled. It's not as simple as 'just don't spend your money on it'. These business practices are normalizing these feelings for kids/ vulnerable adults.
As a society we are miles behind where we need to be in recognizing and helping people with a gambling addiction. It's isn't seen in the same light as alcohol or tobacco addiction but can be just as harmful to people's health.
Oh Sony, Sony, Sony. Each day you show your true side more and more. Between this and crying about the Microsoft/Activision deal the harder it is for me to want to support you. Maybe you need to take a step back and look at yourself. Either that or Maybe it's time you ousted Jim Ryan and bring someone in who is about the gamers and not the money.
@ShogunRok For me its more getting you hooked I have the same issue with Gems of War logging in every day for those damn daily tasks.
@Tasuki What are you talking about? Doesn't Microsoft sell those packs and I'd Nintendo had the chance they would do the same. Oh no wait they do gambling on the mobile phone.
@Tharsman Thanks for the reply. I could see taxes being an issue but don’t think that would be relevant to a customer suing them over it being gambling. I wonder if they’ll have to pay taxes on their lawsuit winnings since it was “a gamble” taking Sony to court.😂
"Sony has been ordered to pay back €338 .... While the sums aren’t exactly eye-watering for a company of its size"
The master of understatement. The kid is the least paid, of all the judges, laywers, toilet cleaners at the court and staff involved in the case.
Good. The sooner these predatory games and these publishers are taken to court and sanctioned, the better.
@SJBUK I don’t buy loot boxes for any games so not sure how it works.
But from buying trading cards as a kid, the whole point was the social game of swaps. There weren’t rare or legendary cards, as all cards were produced in equal number.
If a person tried to spend their way to a complete set, that transaction at the shop counter was loosely gambling, but that was the players fault.
The correct way to play was to socialise and all sit in a corner of the playground swapping, rather than throwing money at the shop keeper and praying you got the cards you needed to complete the set.
Where as with loot boxes, I don’t think you can swap, and some players or skins or whatever are deliberately scarce?
A pack of six trading cards had the same value as any other pack of six trading cards in my day.
But one loot box can have significantly more valuable rewards than the next? So you are putting up a stake, in return for a random chance of a variable reward. Gambling.
Not the case with trading cards.
Happy to stand corrected if my boomer understanding is wrong!
@Toypop It's a long, long time since I traded cards at school (early GenX) but as I recall there were always rarer cards in any collection. I know my kids not so long ago struggled to complete card collections, even with trading! From what I've seen, be it cards, Lego minifigures or lootboxes the odds are stacked against you collecting everything, so it's a gamble either way.
I guess there should be more of a distinction between trading cards and loot boxes, especially if the lootbox content can't be traded.
I don't really have an issue with limited gambling, I see it as a life skill, but I do think the odds should always be clearly stated. Also, as a parent, I see it as my responsibility to teach my kids how gambling works so they can make an informed decision how they spend their money.
Tap here to load 39 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...