Publisher EA has repeatedly come under fire for the predatory and obtrusive microtransactions in FIFA‘s Ultimate Team mode, but they’re laughing all the way to the bank, even as microtransactions continue to be the absolute bane of consumers. Electronic Arts has reached meme-worthy levels of hatred from the gaming public. Thanks to their abandonment of once-beloved franchises like Dead Space, Mass Effect, and several others, EA has cemented itself as a company only interested in its fiscal bottom line, no matter the cost to their reputation or the industry at large. (It’s ironic, considering they have the word “arts” in their name.)
One of EA’s most lucrative franchises is FIFA, the soccer simulator that releases annually. While praised for its entertaining gameplay and cutting-edge visuals, the games have been criticized for their Ultimate Team mode. The mode is essentially a pay-to-win version of FIFA, where players can build their “ultimate team” by buying loot box card packs. These packs can be acquired by grinding for in-game currency, but the game constantly reminds players that the best way to get good pulls is to spend real money for more chances to try their hand at what EA endearingly calls “Surprise Mechanics.”
While bold in its avaricious ambitions and obvious in its gambling mechanics, FIFA‘s Ultimate Team is nonetheless a financial boon for the publisher. According to industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, EA has made over $6 billion in revenue through FIFA Ultimate Team alone since 2015. In fiscal year 2020, the mode brought in a record $1.49 billion, and has only grown in popularity, even as EA struggled to defend its monetization models in the wake of the disastrous launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II.
In recent years, microtransactions have come under increased scrutiny from industry analysts and even world governments. Games like Star Wars: Battlefront II and FIFA are marketed towards children, and there’s no shortage of horror stories of kids swiping their parents’ credit cards and racking up outrageous bills. Then there are compulsive gambling addicts, or “whales,” as they’re cynically called in the industry, who are exploitable and easily coerced into investing hundreds or even thousands of dollars into any slot machine, be it at a real life casino or disguised as a loot box. “Surprise mechanics,” indeed.
EA‘s sports titles seem to be immune from the criticism often attributed to microtransactions, even when they’re the most egregious offenders. Perhaps it has to do with titles like Star Wars: Battlefront II appealing to core gamers who are more savvy of, and less amenable to, various forms of shady microtransactions. Whatever the case may be, EA must know it’s only a matter of time before loot boxes are regulated by even more governments around the world, but the short-sighted company doesn’t mind as long as FIFA games are earning substantial short-term profits.
Next: Screen Rant’s FIFA 2020 Review
Source: Daniel Ahmad