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News > Sports game > FIFA 21

FIFA might get 18+ rating in Germany over Ultimate Team loot boxes

The German parliament (Bundestag) has passed a reform of the Youth Protection law, which could have significant implications in the video game industry, particularly in regards to the notorious loot box mechanics.

The loot box controversy has been a hot topic in the video game industry for years, with Electronic Arts being one of the biggest culprits.

The publisher of popular sports games franchises like FIFA and Madden has been facing backlash over loot boxes since the infamous Battlefront II loot box debacle.

EA is already facing several lawsuits over Ultimate Team loot boxes, which plaintiffs claim are nothing more but gambling in disguise.

In countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, the loot box system is already strictly regulated by law, and ti seems that Germany is the next European country that will put loot box mechanics under strict regulation.

fifa 21 ultimate team banned germany
Ultimate Team has been considered as a predatory mechanic aimed at children (Picture: EA)

As reported by Spiegel, the Bundestag has just passed a reform of the Youth Protection Act, which hasn't been changed for almost two decades, and amongst its many implications, one will affect video game regulations.

"The law speaks of risks from gambling-like mechanisms," reads the article. "With a reform of the Youth Protection Act, the government wants to ensure that children do not come into contact with buying incentives in video games."

Reportedly, one of the goals of this reform in regards to video games is for children not to have any incentives to buy something inside the games themselves, which means not just loot boxes but any other type of microtransaction in video games, such as DLCs, skins, Battle Passes, and other purchasable in-game content.

And while in-game purchases might not be outright forbidden, lawyer Julia Maris told Spiegel that this will have an impact on game ratings and age restrictions.

"Online games or other applications that use loot boxes or similar in-game offers would probably be classified with an age rating of 18 and over," she explained.

In most countries, sports games like FIFA currently have no age restriction since it's "just" a football simulation, but the new Youth Protection law could change things drastically and give rate the game 18, which is the highest age restriction rating.

Essentially, if any developer wants to sell their games to minors, the in-game purchases must not be present in the game by default.

The exact implications of this law remain to be seen, including how it will be enforced and which in-game mechanics will be affected by it.