EA is once again back in the news after some leaked internal documents indicating the publisher planned to “funnel” FIFA players towards the Ultimate Teams mode. This mode then allows you to buy loot boxes.
In fact, one of the pages in the document explicitly calls out FIFA Ultimate Teams, otherwise known as FUT. The verbiage here is under a section titled “All Roads Lead to FUT”,
“Content teasers + targeted Aruba messaging will drive excitement & funnel players towards FUT from other modes. [IMPROVED]”
There exists another page which explicitly calls out conversion, which, in corporate speak, means spending money. The comments here also state the need to “drive” players towards that experience,
“3. PLAYERS WILL BE ACTIVELY MESSAGED + INCENTIVIZED TO CONVERT THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER.
4. FUT IS THE CORNERSTONE AND WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO DRIVE PLAYERS THERE.”
The documents were provided by a purported gaming industry insider reported by CBC News. The insider told CBC News,
“We can't really do anything about it because at the end of the day, [the] company is trying to make money and satisfy investors."
EA provided a rather lengthy response which they attempted to refute these claims,
“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.”
They also noted that due to the lack of a cashout method do not constitute loot boxes as gambling,
“We also firmly disagree that FIFA or any of our games involve gambling. Regulators in multiple countries around the world have stated publicly that where there is no cashout method, loot boxes do not constitute gambling.”
It’s interesting to note here that EA are back to referring to loot boxes as “loot boxes” after telling UK Parliament in an oral evidence session that they don’t, in fact, call loot boxes, “loot boxes.” Instead, EA’s VP of legal and government affairs, Kerry Hopkins, noted that they company refers to them as “surprise mechanics.” It seems the company is now back to referring to these as loot boxes.
Loot boxes continue to be in the news, more recently as of October last year when a Canadian lawsuit said EA “operated an unlicensed, illegal gaming system.”