The CBC says leaked internal documents provided to it by a “game insider” show that Electronic Arts wants to “harass” FIFA players into the game’s Ultimate Team online mode, allowing them to spend more money purchasing loot boxes.
One page of the document, apparently part of an internal presentation of last year’s ‘Run Up to FIFA 21’ (FIFA 21 was released in October 2020), states that teasers and posts will “boost excitement and drive players to FIFA Ultimate from other modes. Another notes that the return of professional football “will only help us and that plans are ready to bend.”
“Players will be actively receiving messages + incentivized to convert throughout the summer,” the document states. “FUT is the cornerstone and we are committed to bringing players there.”
This probably won’t come as a surprise to FIFA fans or committed gamers of any kind. Loot boxes have long been a source of controversy: parts of the industry have defended them, governments have considered (and in some cases imposed) restrictions against them, and some developers and publishers have struggled to find ways to keep them viable without their value.
Because loot boxes are ultimately extremely lucrative: Electronic Arts said in its most recent financial report that FUT matches were up 177 percent year over year, while FIFA Live Services had a compound annual growth rate of nearly 50. percent over the past ten financial years.
“We delivered another strong quarter, driven by the outperformance of live services in Ultimate Team and Apex Legends,” Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen said in a statement. “We are raising our full-year outlook for net bookings based on the strength we continue to see in our business.
At the same time, opposition to loot boxes has not disappeared. Rating agencies, including ESRB, PEGI and Ukie, have stated that loot boxes are not a form of gambling like gambling regulators in France and the UK. However, some governments disagree and take aggressive action against them. In October 2020, a Dutch court fined EA € 10 million for FIFA loot boxes, and more recently Germany imposed stricter rating requirements for games with loot boxes. The US government has also made some noise about tightening loot box regulations.
EA also absorbs heat at the consumer level. A class action lawsuit filed against the company in 2020 accuses the company of “running an illegal unlicensed gaming system through their loot boxes.”
In light of all that, the CBC report does not seem particularly illuminating or illuminating. In any case, the leaked documents are almost indistinguishable from slides in a conventional business presentation, or something that has been said to investors, like the comment below from EA’s Q3 2021 earnings call:
“As the scale of our EA Sports FIFA player audience grows, including a growing Gen Z population, we will deliver more great content on more platforms with our long-standing partners in all of the top leagues and teams in the sport. We bring FIFA to market. Online to new territories including Russia, Poland and Turkey with a combined audience of 80 million players. We are also accelerating our focus on mobile with 6 new mobile football experiences currently in development across regions and genres. ”
What’s interesting, however, is that while the conversation about loot boxes among gamers has cooled down a bit – compared to, say, the huge controversy surrounding the release of Battlefront 2 – the world as a whole is still very curious and concerned about the topic. That may be bad news for EA’s hope that making its loot box systems more friendly and transparent will be enough to escape criticism.
Update: In a statement, Electronic Arts said it is “disappointed” with the CBC report, calling it “a sensational misrepresentation story” that ignores important information and context.
“We are always looking for ways to introduce more players to modes in our games. Our FIFA players expect new content that will make the service exciting, so that’s a constant focus for us,” said EA. “We don’t ‘push’ people to spend money in our games. Where we offer that choice, we are very careful not to spend more than earn in-game, and most FIFA players never spend money on in-game items. ”
According to EA the leaked documents do not point to anything outrageous, but rather are a sign of its commitment to support its game and players. It also disputed the claim that loot boxes in FIFA or other games are a form of gambling, and expressed confidence that it will win in the lawsuits brought against it.
Recently, a US federal court judge dismissed a related case, noting that “the lack of any transferable value in the real world puts them outside the gambling laws,” he said. authorities, we do not believe that any aspect of EA’s games constitutes gambling. ”