The predatory nature of loot boxes and randomized real-money purchases in games has become a major topic of discussion for many in the industry, and many even outside it. Loot boxes as a concept have been viewed as being potentially dangerous for their addictive and random nature and have been likened to gambling, with many calling for outright bans. Belgium has outright declared loot boxes to be gambling and banned them, while other governing bodies in countries have also eyed the process.
The company that has engaged in these monetization practices the most is, of course, EA, to the extent that they’ve almost become synonymous with loot boxes at this point. In fact, a huge chunk of their business revolves around randomized purchases in Ultimate Team modes in their yearly sports titles (with FIFA being the biggest revenue generator). That wasn’t ever in any doubt, of course, but a new damning document has leaked in a report by CBC News, and suggests that that has very much become a central strategy for EA.
The document – a presentation made for internal purposes – mentions that EA is going “everything [it] can” to drive players to FIFA Ultimate Team. FUT is described as the “cornerstone” of the FIFA experience, with EA wanting to “funnel players towards” the mode, with everything from “active messaging” to “content teasers.” “All roads lead to FUT,” the 54-page document summarizes.
An EA spokesperson called the document “privileged and confidential” and said that the information presented within it is being “viewed without context”, and that any conclusions and interpretations are following as a result are “misinformed.”
“All EA games can be played without spending on in-game items, and the majority of players do not spend,” the EA rep added.
Within the industry itself, some have been taking steps to curb the randomized nature of loot boxes in video games. The ESRB has started including labels for games with randomized purchases, while platform holders have agreed on a policy to disclose loot box odds to players.