According to leaked documents acquired by CBC News, Electronic Arts wants to push their new and returning players towards FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT). FIFA Ultimate Team is a mode in the game that allows their customers to spend real-world money and in-game currency to buy loot boxes with different football players.
The documents talk about the company’s focus on FIFA Ultimate Team and their desire to engage the current players seemingly in an attempt to make them spend more on the service.
Details from the leaked documents
Here is just a portion of the leaked document that shows their plan to increase the drive for loot boxes:
- WE HAVE MORE ACTIVE PLAYERS AT THIS POINT IN FIFA THAN EVER (5.3M+ FIFA DAU / 3M+ FUT DAU*).
- THE TEAM IS SQUARELY FOCUSED ON ENGAGING CURRENT PLAYERS THROUGH MID SEPTEMBER.
- PLAYERS WILL BE ACTIVELY MESSAGED + INCENTIVIZED TO CONVERT THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER.
- FUT IS THE CORNERSTONE AND WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO DRIVE PLAYERS THERE.
- THE RETURN OF FOOTBALL IS ONLY GOING TO HELP US AND PLANS ARE READY TO FLEX.
The response from EA
EA provided a response to the leaked documents by publishing a rebuttal on their website, here is just a short portion of their release:
“We do not “push” people to spend in our games. Where we provide that choice, we are very careful not to promote spending over earning in the game, and the majority of FIFA players never spend money on in-game items.
“We also firmly disagree that FIFA or any of our games involve gambling. Regulators in multiple countries around the world have stated publicly that where there is no cashout method, loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We take great care to ensure that our games are played as designed, including by taking action against those who violate our rules against trading outside the game. We do not believe there is merit in any of the recent litigation filed in the U.S. or Canada and are confident the courts will agree.”
The issue with loot boxes
Loot boxes and their link to the gambling scene have been debated for years. Many publishers have scaled back their in-game purchase offerings or changed the way they offer them in response to criticism from the public and pressure from the media and occasionally the law.
Bungie removed paid loot boxes from Destiny 2 in 2020, Epic Games removed blind draw loot boxes in Fortnite’s “Save the World” mode in 2019, and even EA removed in-game purchases from Star Wars Battlefront 2 that would have let people buy a special currency that could be used to purchase loot boxes.
It seems like the financial gain to be made from the inclusion and promotion of loot box type mechanics are too big of a draw to prevent companies from dealing with what many believe to be a dangerous first step into the world of underage gambling and addiction.
No matter how EA responds to this recent controversy, it is clear that they are beholden to their bottom line. Regardless of what they claim, there are still genuine issues that stem from the overuse of loot boxes and by focusing on it, they will only make it worse.