EA FIFA leak describes ‘grind currency’ and pushing players to FUT

A leaked EA document has described FIFA Ultimate Team as the ‘cornerstone’ of the game, as EA do ‘everything we can to drive players there’.

Over the last few years microtransactions and loot boxes have become far less common in most video games, the debacle surrounding EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2 having turned public opinion against them and ensured that most new games no longer include them.

The one clear exception to this is sports games, such as NBA 2K and FIFA, which have carried on regardless, with many players not even regarding FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) as using loot boxes.

That’s good news for EA because most of their profits come from FUT and a newly leaked marketing presentation shows just how important it is to them, and how they try to push it as much as possible.

The 54-page document was leaked to CBC News and includes a bullet point that states, ‘FUT is the cornerstone and we are doing everything we can to drive players there.’

‘All roads lead to FUT’ reads another bullet point, which talks about how EA intends to ‘funnel players towards FUT from other modes’.

‘I don’t know why anyone would ever put that in print at the company,’ says CBC’s anonymous insider. ‘It’s getting harder and harder to defend what is very obviously unregulated gambling.’

A second document allegedly refers to in-game currency as ‘grind currency’, implying that it’s designed to be time-consuming to acquire and encourage the use of real money.

‘It seems like [EA games] are designed to be boring, to be a grind, and to encourage people of all ages to spend money on card packs’, suggests the insider.

Ever since Battlefront 2, EA and other publishers have been desperate to insist that loot boxes do not constitute gambling, which led to an attempt by EA to characterise them to Parliament merely as ‘surprise mechanics’.

That didn’t convince anyone though and last year the House of Lords stated that loot boxes are gambling and suggested that there should be regulation.

That would be the last thing that EA, and other sports publishers like Take-Two, would want and so EA has defended the leaks, claiming that they are being ‘viewed without context’ and that the insider’s comments are ‘misinformed’.

‘All EA games can be played without spending on in-game items, and the majority of players do not spend’, stated EA – which is certainly true as, like any game with microtransactions, the majority of money for FUT comes from a very small number of fans spending enormous amounts of money.

In a statement to Eurogamer, EA further insisted that loot boxes are not gambling and that they ‘do not ‘push’ people to spend in our games’.

‘We take very seriously our responsibility to provide players a safe and fun experience’, said EA.

‘We don’t encourage young players to spend in our games, and we strongly recommend use of family controls to manage the content that children are allowed to access, their ability to spend in games, and how much time they can play.’

It’s certainly true that the documents don’t reveal anything that gamers didn’t already know about the game and while government regulation could restrict the way FUT is implemented in the future, for now it remains far too appealing a prospect for both EA and the players that engage with it.

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