A set of leaked documents from an internal company presentation at Electronic Arts (EA), developers of the massively popular FIFA video game franchise (among others), have alleged a move that might turn one of the most beloved and followed games of all time into all others – a corporate cash spinner. CBC News, which got hold of the documents, reveals that going forward, EA aims to really push all FIFA players towards the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) feature – the biggest in-game revenue generator for the title.
According to CBC News, the EA presentation seemingly presses for FUT to be the “cornerstone” of the game’s future, and claims that the company is “doing everything” to drive more players to the game. The in-game FIFA currency was also allegedly called “grind currency”, which allegedly hints at EA treating the game resources as ones that would be increasingly pushed towards players taking too long to obtain, hence being eventually pushed towards spending real money to acquire.
In response to this report, an EA spokesperson reportedly labelled the CBC News piece as being “taken out of context”, ahead of publishing an exhaustive statement. A part of this statement reads, “We do not “push” people to spend in our games. Where we provide that choice, we are very careful not to promote spending over earning in the game, and the majority of FIFA players never spend money on in-game items.”
A big part of the concern behind EA’s alleged move to make the beloved FIFA franchise more corporate is the ‘loot box’ format through which FUT operates. The latter has come under much fire among gamers, who have blamed game publishers for pushing more content towards in-game items that require spending for an optimal experience, and that too in a way that verges on speculative bidding – in other words, gambling. On this note, EA states that it “firmly disagrees” with this opinion.
“Regulators in multiple countries around the world have stated publicly that where there is no cash-out method, loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We take great care to ensure that our games are played as designed, including by taking action against those who violate our rules against trading outside the game,” the EA statement said.
The FIFA franchise has relied upon iconic game modes such as its career mode, features such as Be a Pro – game modes that have remained rather static in nature, but retained a fan base nonetheless. Over recent editions, EA attempted a three-part story mode with The Journey trilogy, and in subsequent editions, increased its focus on its FIFA Street throwback with Volta Football. These, along with multiplayer online and offline matches, have formed the mainstay of a franchise that is clearly looking to expand its player numbers while innovating within the confines of the sport.
One thing, however, that FIFA will be keen to avoid is a controversy similar to the one raging across the real world of football right now. Should the publishers push for higher in-game spending via FUT, gamers are bound to not take too kindly to a franchise that is entirely built around the love for a working class sport – one that already stands at a precarious spot because of its lucrative commercials at the moment.