An EA manager has said that FIFA’s approach to monetization in their lucrative Ultimate Team mode cannot change, even amid legislative changes that could classify loot boxes as a game of chance.
In an interview with Eurogamer, EA’s Chief Experience Officer Chris Bruzzo was asked how the company would react if the UK – one of FIFA’s key markets – started to classify Lootboxes (and thus FIFA Ultimate Team Packs) as gambling .
“Most importantly, we will work with the government,” began Bruzzo. “We are ready. We are already at the table. We continue to bring measures. We will bring more. We are ready.” However, Bruzzo went on to say that he cannot see monetized loot boxes change as they are obviously important in providing funding for further development of FIFA games throughout the year.
After explaining that the evolution of gaming now means developers can’t take breaks after a game is released, Bruzzo said, “So if we’re delivering great value, and apparently we’re doing it because 100 million people are playing the game play, and when you get that many people playing the game in every form that you can play it, yes, that’s a pretty big yardstick and can generate significant income. And we need this revenue to keep paying our developers to keep adding value and making the game more fun over time. I don’t see that change. I think players are clearly responding to the fun they are having with the diffusion of ongoing content in the game. I think we will continue to do that. “
While Bruzzo doesn’t see monetization seemingly needing to change, a change in law in the UK would likely force EA to change how it is implemented. Gambling regulations would force EA to acquire a UK gambling license and, as analyst Piers Harding-Rolls pointed out to Eurogamer, could also force the company to add an age verification system to FIFA to allow under-18s access to paid gambling prevent content.
While EA has repeatedly said that its FUT packs and loot boxes are not gambling, its own financial documents (pages 17 and 18) suggest that legislative changes could affect its business model in the future. That’s no surprise, as leaked internal documents show EA Sports wants this
When Belgium banned loot boxing, EA simply stopped selling its premium currency, FIFA Points, in the region, which meant that FUT packs could only be earned by in-game grinds. Given Bruzzo’s comments, this seems unlikely in future cases, although the executive gave no indication of the approach.
The executive made it clear that EA is giving more thought to cases where players overpay on the game and how to combat this behavior. “I think we have to talk about the extremes,” he said. “I think we have to work on real solutions for the players who are in an extreme situation where they have lost control of the time they are spending in.”
While EA itself denies that the systems used by FIFA are gambling, a report by the charity GambleAware found that links between loot boxes and games of chance have been “robustly checked” with vulnerable individuals offering developers “oversized loot box winnings” .
The Eurogamer interview in its entirety is well worth reading, as many facets of EA’s monetization strategy are examined.
Joe Skrebels is the editor-in-chief of News at IGN. Follow him further Twitter. Do you have a tip for us? Would you like to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.