A court in Austria has ruled FIFA Ultimate Team packs are a form of “illegal gambling” and has ordered Sony, the company behind PlayStation, to issue refunds. 

Based on a report on Games Wirtschaft, a local publication that gives insights into the German games market, a small court in the Austrian district of Hermagor favored several Austrian FIFA players who filed a case against Sony last 2020. 

This lawsuit alleged that the plaintiffs, including one minor, had “gambled away” over €400 or around $425 on the renowned football simulator. 

Brought forward by lawyer Ulrich Salburg, the suit claimed that the capability to spend money on FIFA’s random pack system violated the gambling laws in the country and sought to hold Sony accountable. 

This time, according to the report, Sony has been ordered to repay €338.26 or around $359, though the company has yet to issue a statement regarding the court’s decision.

According to the court, FIFA’s loot boxes are violating the Austrian Gaming Act because their contents can be worth more or less monetarily than the pack’s value itself, thus, theoretically, offering a “financial benefit” to those fortunate enough to receive a valuable item.

Furthermore, FIFA Ultimate Team has faced scrutiny across the continent in recent years because of its doubtful popularity and ability to produce vast sums of money for Electronic Arts, the video game company behind the FIFA game. 

“Build your dream squad from thousands of players and compete in the most popular mode in FIFA. FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) connects fans to the world of football throughout the entire season with a range of content influenced by real-world performances and competitions including the UEFA Champions League and Europa League,” said the official description of the game.

In the game, players gather up their “Ultimate Team” by obtaining items representing players, both contemporary and football legends. A way of doing this is by buying card packs, which can fluctuate in value from around £1.99 or around $2 for the most basic pack to over £30 or over around $36. 

Its sticking point comes from the packs’ contents themselves. While the item types players receive are guaranteed (meaning, they will always receive 30 Gold Items in X pack), the players’ quality in those packs is randomized, incentivizing gamers to open limitless packs with hopes of getting the item they wish. 

In 2022, Netherlands’ highest administrative court overturned a previous decision to find the video game company €10 million or around $10 million for keeping loot boxes in FIFA. 

The ability to buy these loot boxes has been removed in select territories in Europe, such as Benelux, but in many other regions, this is remaining unchanged. 

Earlier this year, Electronic Arts said FIFA 23 is “pacing to be the biggest title in franchise history.” The game was released in September 2022 and since then has enjoyed a record-breaking launch for the franchise when dealing with first-week player numbers. 

The game has attracted more than 10.3 million players in its first seven days from launch, according to the GamesIndustry.biz website, compared to the 9.1 million gamers who joined FIFA 2022 in the 10 days after its release.

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