An Austrian court has ordered SONY to refund money spent on FIFA packs in FIFA 23.
FIFA Ultimate Team has been by far the most popular game mode in Electronic Arts’ football simulation series FIFA for several years. One aspect that continues to raise debates is real money FIFA packs that contain a number of random players.
The Austrian district court in Hermagor has now come to the conclusion that FIFA packs constitute illegal gambling and subsequently ordered SONY to reimburse the amount spent. The judgment is not yet final at this point in time.
Two years ago, Salburg Rechtsanwalts GmbH, in cooperation with Padronus, filed a model lawsuit against Sony Interactive Entertainment Network Europe Limited and demanded the reimbursement of 338.26 euros that a customer had spent on FIFA packs.
Since SONY handles the payments and is responsible for collecting the money spent by players, the lawsuit is directed against the PlayStation Group and not against FIFA developer Electronic Arts.
According to the plaintiffs, due to a thriving secondary market, FIFA packs represent an asset and should therefore be classified as gambling. Due to the lack of a gaming license from SONY, the contracts concluded with the plaintiff are void and the payments made can therefore be reclaimed.
For Michael Linhard from Salburg Rechtsanwalts GmbH, the judgment points the way for dealing with Looxboxes. It shows that video games are not a legal vacuum. Padronus Managing Director Richard Eibl sees it similarly:
“The verdict is a bang for the entire video game industry. Neither in Austria nor in Germany has there been case law on the question of the legality of loot boxes and the reclaimability of payments made. Of course, the final result remains to be seen, as the proceedings will probably go up through the courts, but Sony and several other gaming groups should dress warmly from now on.”
“According to the law, it is sufficient for the subsumption under gambling if a purchase is made for something whose result depends primarily on chance and secondly has an economic equivalent. The court agreed with us and explained plausibly why this is the case with FIFA packs. In terms of staging, Sony is also strongly oriented towards conventional games of chance when buying the loot boxes. Audiovisual enticement elements such as fireworks effects are used to trigger dopamine release in predominantly male adolescents. It was only through talking to our customers that we realized how addictive the FIFA packs are and how pathological the purchasing behavior of some players is.”