When it comes to the terms in-game transactions and/or “loot boxes,” Electronic Arts is a name that immediately enters the minds of myriad gamers — despite the popular American video company’s adamant denial of said association.
Notwithstanding, the EA loot box connection once again became a talking point with recently leaked documents revolving around the strategy for the latest installment in its popular soccer franchise, FIFA 21, more specifically the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode, which allows players to drop both real-world money and in-game currency on loot boxes containing virtual athletes in recurring fashion and compete against other players from around the world.
According to documents procured by CBC News, FIFA‘s FUT mode, which is one of the company’s biggest sources of revenue generation, is one which they prioritize steering players towards.
“FUT is the cornerstone and we are doing everything we can to drive players there,” said the document, ostensibly from an internal EA outline or business presentation. Another segment of EA’s loot box-oriented business strategy revealed in the leaked documents, with the heading “All roads lead to FUT,” revealed EA’s marketing and targeted advertising plans which would “drive excitement & funnel players toward FUT from other modes.”
EA issued a response to the CBC leaked documents, with the arguments that the plans were viewed “out of context,” the documents were misrepresented and EA doesn’t push people to spend in their games, with the FUT mode being described as “optional.”
“We seek every day to provide players with content choices that fuel their excitement and connection to the sport and their friends,” EA said in their response. “Which is why we’re so disappointed in a recent media report about FUT which ignored important information and context, the result being a sensationalized story with a misrepresentation of the facts.”
“We do not ‘push’ people to spend in our games,” EA added. “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.”
EA closed with the assertion that no aspect of FIFA Ultimate Team can be equated to gambling, with evidence that litigation recently filed with regulatory bodies can support said statement.
“We also firmly disagree that FIFA or any of our games involve gambling,” EA’s statement continued. “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. Recently, a U.S. Federal Court judge dismissed a related case noting that ‘the lack of any real-world transferable value to items takes them outside’ of the gambling laws. So again, supported by all of these perspectives from authorities, we do not believe any aspect of EA’s games constitutes gambling.”
Do you think that the FIFA Ultimate Team is an example of EA’s loot box-oriented business strategy? Do you think that EA is pushing players towards the FUT in hopes of maximizing profits and exposing players to a grind-based, gambling-esque situation? Sound off in the comments.