It feels as if over the last 5 years or so, the video game industry has been rocked with one controversy or another. One of those has been things like loot boxes and microtransactions as they both more ingrained in gaming. One such thing people criticize are systems like FIFA‘s Ultimate Team mode, which many argue is little more than gambling dressed up in traditional football hidden inside one of the best selling video game franchises. Well, it’s going to be a debate for a long while, I suppose, but one man who was there at EA doesn’t see the comparison as having much merit.
Former president of EA Sports Peter Moore recently talked to GamesIndustry about Ultimate Team. He largely dismissed the comparison, saying that he simply didn’t see them as the same thing. In his eyes, it’s no different than the random aspect of things like playing cards, even going back to the 1920s and ’30s of collecting cigarette cards (go ahead, Google it; it was a thing). In his eyes, you are always getting something with your purchase, unlike ‘true’ gambling where, by definition, you may end up with nothing for the money you put in. He also says that now, as an outsider to the industry, he also trusts his former employer to know when it’s time to pull back.
“This is a personal view, but the concept of surprise and delight vs gambling… on a continuum, they’re a long way from each other,” Moore said. “You buy or grind your way up to getting a gold pack, you open it up, and you’re either happy or you think it’s a crappy pack. I don’t see that as gambling, per se — but again, this is my personal view as an outsider right now.
“I get the scrutiny, I understand outside of sports that loot boxes — again, another EA title in particular — get a lot of scrutiny and criticism. EA pulled back on that. One thing they’re always good at is getting feedback and realising ‘You know what, probably shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘That was the wrong decision, it wasn’t gamer-first,’ and then pulling back and making a different decision.”
There’s been much talk of countries looking to legislate gaming and its microtransactions. Some regions have classified it as such, and EA has been preparing for such acts when/if they occur. For the most part, however, these mechanics are largely still functioning with no regulation in most regions.