Oppressive monetization policies in full sized AAA games have been an intense topic of discussion in our industry, one that has grown even more relevant in recent months, especially with the unwanted yet needed attention games such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 have garnered over such controversies over the last year or so.
As a result of this, and as a consequence of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in Europe earlier this year, a 32 year old resident of UK, Michael (who refused to give his last name for the sake of anonymity), made a GDPR request to EA to send him all the data they had on him and his spending activities. The results, which Michael sent to Eurogamer, were surprising, to say the least.
It turned out he spent a total of $16,154 on microtransactions options included in FIFA games over two years. FIFA 18, just like its predecessors, of course, holds plenty of opportunities for players to spend real life money on in game purchases, with FIFA Points being the primary income generator in the series (outside of actual software sales, of course). The lootbox style FIFA Ultimate Team has generated plenty of revenue for EA over the course of several years, I imagine.
Of course, we don’t know just how representative these figures specifically are of the larger number of people who play FIFA. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume, based simply on pure logic, that it’s way above average. Michael himself admits to Eurogamer that he has access to “a healthy disposable income”, with the money he and his fiancee make together. Also, something I thought I should note, FIFA 18 is of course only a year old at this point (a little less than a year, in fact), so the data compiled here must be looking at his activity across more than just one FIFA title for a period of two years.
Of course, EA did not disclose the entirety of the relevant data as part of the GDPR request. “We have also withheld data impacting the security and integrity of EA products and services, data that, if disclosed, would affect the rights and freedoms of others, including EA, and any other EA or third-party trade secrets,” EA wrote to Michael in an email they sent to him (via Reddit).
It’s definitely interesting, to say the least. Again, microtransactions have become a topic that seems to be at the centre of so many discussions in our industry, and instances like these only serve to show why. What’s your take on this? Leave your thoughts in your comments below.