EA Disputes Driving Players Towards Loot Boxes, As Leaked Documents Suggest

Leaked documents indicated that EA considers microtransactions the "cornerstone" of the FIFA series, but the publisher says this is a "sensationalized story."

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A 54-page document leaked by an insider to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation suggests that FIFA publisher Electronic Arts is actively pushing players to spend money on microtransactions. The document, which was provided by a leaker from EA Vancouver, appears to be a presentation that frankly discusses the importance of FIFA's microtransaction-fuelled mode FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT). However, EA disputes that it's pushing people to spend money, calling this a "sensationalized story."

"We are doing everything we can to drive players there," a portion of the presentation reads. That same bullet-point refers to FIFA Ultimate Team as the "cornerstone" of the game. Another portion of the presentation details how the game's developers use "content teasers" to attempt to incentivize players to spend money on Ultimate Team, summarizing that strategy as "all roads lead to FUT."

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According to the CBC, the insider felt obligated to leak the document because he and others dislike working on video games that include loot boxes and other gambling-type elements. An EA representative declined to comment initially, other than to say that the document was "viewed without context."

"All EA games can be played without spending on in-game items, and the majority of players do not spend," the representative stated.

It's been clear for quite a while that microtransactions are immensely profitable as a business model, with EA's rival Activision Blizzard making $1.2 billion in revenue from in-game microtransactions in just three months. A law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against EA back in 2020, claiming that FIFA Ultimate Team is a form of predatory gambling. For now, however, loot boxes are legal in most jurisdictions, though some countries like the UK have commissioned studies to determine how exactly they affect vulnerable players.

Since the publication of this story, EA has published a statement, saying "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." It also said it encourages the use of parental controls for young players and said the leaked documents don't contradict that the company simply wants to encourage engagement for things like FIFA Ultimate Team. It also said, as it has in the past, that it "disagree[s] that FIFA or any of our games involve gambling."

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