When major AAA publishers like EA integrate microtransactions in a game like FIFA, it’s bound to create huge ripples when the slightest imbalance issues emerge. There is no doubt that microtransactions are quite alluring for publishers due to the massive returns on investment that require almost no effort from their side. According to a report published by Forbes, microtransactions alone generate around $800 million for the publishers every year.
To help you further understand what kind of problems this system is causing, this overview should be more than enough.
The Gambling Controversy
FIFA Ultimate Team is a popular online mode that simulates managing a team. All players start with an average team and gradually try to add better players to it. FIFA has a ‘loot box’ system, which means that to unlock players, a box has to be purchased. Now, since the content of the box is randomly generated, you’re not promised anything. And while the box can be purchased for in-game coins, you can still use real currency to unlock boxes. There is no guarantee that the next 5 boxes won’t contain the same player, forcing you to open as many boxes as you can.
You can see where this is going as it’s slowly turning the FIFA Ultimate Team into a gambling game that forces you to pour money to be able to collect players for your team. If you spend enough money on packs or boxes, you’ll eventually be able to create a great team. But this means that you may need to spend a ridiculous amount to be able to be good at FIFA Ultimate Team, similar to the amount you’ll pay on an unfortunate evening of blackjack in a casino. Some authorities in Europe have declared loot boxes to be an unlawful form of gambling, which is putting pressure on EA.
EA’s Reluctance Of Changing The System
The issue of microtransactions is already causing trouble in other games, but it’s EA’s flagship that’s taking the brunt of the criticism due to how imbalanced the system is. Since online gambling is already fighting a regulation fight on the frontline, it seems unfair that EA gets to play by its own rules.
Lawsuits and Pressure
The legal developments in Belgium are putting pressure on EA, but it seems that it’s not enough to make EA change their minds on their policy. The company is strongly opposing illicit gambling accusations by comparing the loot boxes to a fun extra sticker that you buy to customize your team. Seeing as how the game is bringing a lot of revenue to the company, the legal firepower they’re using to defend their position legally against lawsuits is quite strong.
Microtransactions have plagued the gaming industry for a good while now. While the concept itself doesn’t have to be toxic, publishers are pushing some ethical limits that end up warping the game around paying money to enjoy it or win. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy FIFA Ultimate Team without paying money, but your experience will be significantly impacted.