Loot boxes have become a point of contention among fans of 'FIFA' and European government bodies, but EA have defended the practice.

In a statement issued to Eurogamer, the developer said that loot boxes are an integral part of the Ultimate Team experience, and cited them as "something players love".

"We wholeheartedly believe that Ultimate Team and FUT Packs, which have been part of the game for more than a decade, are a part of FIFA that players love - fans love that the game reflects the real-world excitement and strategy of building and managing a squad. Giving players the choice to spend if they want to is fair," EA's statement reads.

"It's worth saying that spending is entirely optional in our game, and we do not encourage spending over earning rewards through gameplay. FUT Packs work in just the same way whether they are paid for or earned, and most players don't spend in-game at all."

Loot boxes in 'FIFA' were specifically singled out in a report by the Norwegian government earlier this summer that found that the mechanic in Ultimate Team was tantamount to gambling, and called for stricter regulation of the practice.

The statement was backed up by consumer protection bodies across nearly 20 different European nations, however, the UK took a different tack on the issue, saying it was up to developers like EA to 'self-regulate'.

The Ultimate Team mode is banned in Belgium as it was found to have been in circumvention of Belgium's gambling laws, and a bill is currently being floated in the Dutch senate to ban the practice in The Netherlands.

The Spanish government has also come under pressure to take action on loot boxes, after research found that 3 out of 10 Spanish students spent real-life money to improve their ranking or character status in video games.

Loot boxes will remain a part of the upcoming 'FIFA 23' which is due for release in late September, but with European-wide pressure now scrutinising the game mode, EA appear to be putting themselves on a collision course for a showdown with European consumer watchdogs and governments.