EA Sports is once again under fire for FIFA “loot boxes” after a leaked internal document revealed the company is attempting to drive players to the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) game mode, which houses the mystery add-ons.
A 54-page document obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called the FUT game mode – which encourages users to spend money on the so-called loot boxes to help improve their team – a “cornerstone” of the classic football franchise.
“We are doing everything we can to drive players there,” the company admits within the document published on Monday. The document, created in the run up to the launch of FIFA 21, said the FUT mode had more than 3 million daily active users as of last July, which was more than half of the 5.3 million people playing the game in any form each day, at that time.
“Players will be actively messaged and incentivised to convert throughout the summer,” the document also said. “All roads lead to FUT” another section of the document begins.
Loot boxes have been heavily criticised by gamers and governments alike in recent times, with many observers likening their existence to gambling because players don’t know what they’ll receive for their money. Often they’re referred to as ‘games of chance’, which could be a gateway to gambling among younger gamers, experts say.
Ironically, around the same time as the EA Sports document was created last year, the UK’s House of Lords advised that loot boxes should be regulated under gambling laws. Last year. one UK teen told the BBC he’d blown £3,000 on them.
“If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling,” a report from the House of Lords Gambling Commission reads. “The government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation,” it added.
An EA spokesperson told the CBC that the leak was of a confidential document and said the information had been presented without context.
“All EA games can be played without spending on in-game items, and the majority of players do not spend,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. Trusted Reviews has emailed Electronic Arts seeking further clarification on the matter.