An Austrian court has ruled that FIFA packs are a form of gambling, and is ordering Sony to refund a customer who spent hundreds of euros on the microtransactions.
The Austrian district court of Hermagor has also ruled that companies will need a license in order to profit from FIFA packs, although this decision is yet to be made legally binding. This comes at the conclusion of a lawsuit brought against Sony, due to the fact that it profited from a player spending over €300 on FIFA in one night.
The law firm representing the player says that the case has made them aware of how "addictive" this form of microtransaction can be, criticising loot boxes for giving customers a "dopamine burst" upon purchase.
As reported by Notebook Check, the Austrian court has ruled that all FIFA packs are to be regulated as "games of chance that require a license".
It remains to be seen what this means in practice, but it will likely compel EA to seek a gambling licence in order to operate FIFA as it does in other regions.
However, considering the lawsuit focussed on Sony's involvement, it's possible it will only alter how PlayStation handles its cut from the microtransactions.
According to the original report, the lawsuit went after Sony rather than EA because the former was responsible for processing the payment.
This layer of separation seems to have shielded EA so far, although the precedent set in the case likely spells disaster for its practices in Austria.
Sony is expected to appeal the decision. While it obviously can afford to foot the €300 bill, it will want to avoid the further ramifications of the ruling, especially since it may result in further frustrated customers suing the company.
Yet if the court maintains this decision, then it could also affect other companies that handle FIFA payments, such as Microsoft and Nintendo. It doesn't seem that Sony has publicly commented on the case at the time of writing. It may not until it has exhausted its appeal options.
FUT FIFA-Packs are virtual in-game packs that contain randomised content like players and club Items. Because the specific contents in FUT Packs are randomised and not visible to you before they are opened, this mechanic is sometimes referred to as a loot box.