Leaked documents show EA's focus on loot boxes

midian182

Posts: 7,302   +65
Staff member
A hot potato: Given all the controversy aimed at Electronic Art's loot box strategy over the years, one might imagine that the company would focus less on this element of its games—but it appears that the opposite is true. Leaked documents suggest that EA pushes FIFA 21 players toward the game's FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) online mode, where they can spend real money to buy randomized rewards. EA denies this is true, naturally.

CBC News obtained the 54-page document, provided by a "gaming insider," which is said to be part of a "Run Up to FIFA 21" internal presentation from last year.

One section of the report, headlined "All roads lead to FUT," notes that teasers and messaging "will drive excitement & funnel players toward FUT from other modes."

The emphasis placed on promoting the loot box system seems apparent: "Players will be actively messaged + incentivized to convert throughout the summer," the document states. "FUT is the cornerstone and we are doing everything we can to drive players there."

FUT mode lets players use FIFA points—500 of these cost $5—to buy card packs that come with random rewards. It's been a lucrative feature for EA; FIFA Ultimate Team hit a record six million daily users last December and was behind more than a quarter ($1.49 billion) of EA's net revenue during the previous financial year.

Loot boxes were always a fairly contentious part of games that included them, but EA's implementation in 2017's Battlefront 2 caused worldwide outcry. A redditor calculated that it took "4,528 hours of gameplay (or $2,100) to unlock all base-game content in Star Wars Battlefront 2," prompting the company to remove the in-game purchases.

In 2018, Belgium classified loot boxes as illegal, while 2019 saw a judge give the Netherlands Gambling Authority permission to fine EA $5 million over FIFA's microtransactions. Additionally, a class action lawsuit filed against EA last year accuses it of running "an unlicensed, illegal gaming system through their loot boxes."

EA has responded to CBC's report via a statement on the company's website. The gaming giant is "disappointed" by the article, which it calls "a sensationalized story with a misrepresentation of the facts."

"We always look for opportunities to introduce more players to modes in our games. Our FIFA players are expecting fresh content that makes the service exciting, so that's a constant focus for us," EA said. "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."

EA maintains that loot boxes are not gambling; it once referred to them as "surprise mechanics" that are "quite ethical and fun."

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Watzupken

Posts: 386   +357
I would avoid EA games in most cases, unless it is a good game and I don't see the game "bundled with" micro transactions.
 

Xex360

Posts: 163   +238
Why do you need to buy those players, just create your own team, use the transfer option and play with friends or against AI.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,453   +3,787
It's pretty simply to mod your game if it's on PC, Android or jailbroken iOS to give you as many "points" as you want... I'd be doing that before I spent a cent of real money on their crap.
 

BadThad

Posts: 750   +847
EA sucks, no way to sugar coat it. Over the years I've had more issues with them than all other developers combined.
 

Trapped Nowhere

Posts: 98   +79
Wow they've fallen off immensely since the EA Sports Big era. Lootboxes have been the worst thing to happen to gaming. They make all this extra money, but still can't seem to make sane decisions regarding their games
 

Thretosix

Posts: 111   +109
Just don't buy EA products. Everyone has the ability to judge with their wallets, but as is obvious - not so much the mental acuity to follow through.

>groans about loot boxes
>continues purchasing EA products
>"I'm the victim!"
You have a lot of people with expendable money. Often twitch users with followers donating hundreds of dollars to people playing these games that open them live. It's quite sickening. The worst part is EA buys up the licensing. The games themselves are barely upgrades over the previous year because the lottery mechanics make them more money than the games themselves. These games should be free to play if they want to keep pushing this. Even then it's still pretty evil.
 

Gypsygib

Posts: 116   +104
EA is working on the "Greedy Gaming Company" highest achievement possible. Make people pay full price for a F2P game model and have people spend just as much money on loot boxes.

They may have already done it given how much revenue FUT made last fiscal year according the article.
 

Scshadow

Posts: 654   +309
Anyone thats into this enough to buy it, deserves it at this point. But maybe thats too easy for me to say since a sports game makes no sense to me at all. I miss true in game unlockables. My favorite PS2 games like Ratchet and Clank would unlock skins for skills points and was very enjoyable to unlock. I hardly even used them, I was just obsessed with the accomplishment of unlocking them. And now everything is pay money and you MIGHT get something. You'll have to roll the dice to get what you want. If there is a "free" way to unlock something, it requires extraordinary amounts of time doing something boring that is, in of itself, not an actual challenge. I saw this coming from early ps3 days. Internet connected console are one of the worst things to happen to the gaming industry. Congratulations, you have multiplayer but you have every gaming company under the sun wanting you to waste your money. The greed never ends.
 

ChuckyJ

Posts: 11   +1
Loot boxes will be their downfall. All another company has to do is make the same product without loot boxes and bye bye EA. Huge opportunity for anyone willing to take it.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,453   +3,787
Loot boxes will be their downfall. All another company has to do is make the same product without loot boxes and bye bye EA. Huge opportunity for anyone willing to take it.
Yeah... making a full soccer game licensed by FIFA is a piece of cake... I’m sure there’ll be dozens within a few months... /sarcasm
 

Reehahs

Posts: 1,294   +962
Jail terms for EA board members in Belgium will start to sort these 'surprise mechanic' peddlers real quick.
 

ypsylon

Posts: 421   +357
EA or Wargaming plus long list of other $-RNG-$ scumbags. Doesn't matter American capitalists or Soviet Bolsheviks they all love loot boxes.

It's not surprise mechanics. It's extortion racket.
 

Edster

Posts: 104   +78
Yeah... making a full soccer game licensed by FIFA is a piece of cake... I’m sure there’ll be dozens within a few months... /sarcasm

Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution for a couple generations were neck and neck with EA/FIFA. They could never overcome the licensing advantage EA had, and EA used that extra money to further to lock themselves in exclusivity with the major leagues. And once they are in-grained as "the game" for soccer fans, they look to profit from them even more.

Thing is, stuff like career mode has been worse over time with features either broken or taken out. In FIFA 20, they broken the simulation in career mode (it used to let you see whats happening in the game, now just skips to the end) and never fixed it. I would be much more.... tolerant of FUT if it was a F2P game, but as it is, EA is clearly trying to double dip on users.
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,477   +738
Buying FIFA is an IQ test.
Haha, it is the only game I play lately. I know, I like it because of the lottery and trading thrills, not for the game and sports :)
But I admit, what they do is simply taking advantage of people who cant control their spending impulses. EA is simply ra**ing those poor kids.
More regulations and limits incoming one of these days.