Undoubtedly regarded as one of the video gaming giants, things haven’t been looking good for the EA team lately after two lawsuits were filed in France against its FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) game mode for promoting ‘unethical gambling’.
Since its release in 1993, EA’s soccer game FIFA has been one of the most loved and acclaimed among the fans. However, the ‘ FIFA Ultimate Team’ game mode has been making headlines recently, but not for positive reasons. Two lawyers from Paris sued the gaming firm for promoting ‘unethical gambling’ through the FIFA Ultimate Team game mode.
What is FIFA Ultimate Team?
The highly debated ‘Ultimate Team’ feature originated from outside the FIFA game series. The FUT mode, released in the year 2007 in the Xbox 360 version of the UEFA Champions League game, became an integral part of the game since 2009.
The FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is a special mode in FIFA. It enables one to play against others, build teams using any players from all different leagues, play online or offline and win coins to buy better players or boxes that contain random players.
FIFA Ultimate Team ‘surprise boxes’ can be bought with virtual in-game coins or actual money.
As a result, it’s these ‘surprise boxes’ that have made FIFA Ultimate Team an addiction and a form of gambling. A 32-year-old chauffeur Mamadou has been a victim of this.
Heads Up! Is EA’s FIFA Ulitmate Team making kids potential gambling addicts?
- The legal case in France
- What are the FIFA Ultimate Team packs in controversy?
- Why FIFA Ultimate Team is so addictive?
- Is the Ultimate Team game mode really gambling?
- FIFA loot boxes that are behind the allegations
- Future of FIFA Ultimate Team
“You quickly become addicted to this game. Whenever I buy a pack, I tell myself that this is the last time, but I always do it again. You get so frustrated when you don’t get good enough players that you buy again and again,” Mamadou states.
Mamadou laments saying, “People I know have put in 2000 to 3000 Euros. It’s crazy. The amount I have spent has made me fall behind on my rent payments.”
What are FIFA Ultimate Team ‘card packs’?
The players in FUT are divided into three categories; Bronze players (rated 0-64), Silver players (rated 65-74) and Gold players (rated 75-99). The ratings generally reflect their ability in real life and the prices reflect the popularity of the players within a game.
Therefore, one may create a team having a mix of players from different categories provided the optimum requirements are met. Each of these three categories are sub-divided into Normal, Rare and In-Form players which can be purchased accordingly.
What’s the buzz around FIFA Ultimate Team?
In France, the FUT has been a talking point among the fans and media of late. Two Paris lawyers, Karim Morand-Lahouazi and Victor Zagury, in a bid to take on the gaming giant, have filed two legal lawsuits against the makers of the popular video game.
They are arguing for the fact that the FIFA Ultimate Team mode should be classified as a form of gambling because there are high risks attached to the players of the FUT.
“The developers of this game mode have created an illusionary and particularly addictive system. We believe that a gambling game has been integrated into this video game because buying packs is nothing more than a bet. It is the logic of a casino that has entered their homes.” – Victor Zagury on FUT addiction
The duo are claiming that in order to secure a win in the FUT mode, one has to spend money to purchase FIFA card packs (FUT card types) that includes various players in the game – from Normal to Rare; which they believe is a form of gambling.
Zagury says, “In this game, everyone wants to have a dream team to go as far as possible. My client spent 600 Euros in five months without ever getting a big player.”
In addition to this, the lawyers believe that filing a lawsuit will help them gain an insight into the algorithm that helps in generation and distribution of player ‘card packs’.
Is FIFA Ultimate Team a form of gambling?
In FUT, a player can usually obtain ‘card packs’ with the help of virtual coins by winning games. However, the catch is that they may also be purchased with actual money.
A selection of 12 ‘rare gold’ (the best players available) players will cost around 2000 FIFA points (around 12 Euros) with a chance of less than 5% of getting a valuable player.
Does Fifa Ultimate Team risk turning players into gambling addicts? | Tom Usher https://t.co/23nSTqA5ry— The Guardian (@guardian) February 4, 2020
The ‘loot boxes’ which are compared to a casino are now considered as a form of gambling. The players are incited to purchase more cards based on the fact they might get hold of a ‘rare gold’ player they had been eagerly wishing for.
Since no one actually knows which player lies inside the ‘card pack’, so they often tend to purchase more such cards and eventually become addicted to the same.
Mamadou is one of the many examples of those getting trapped in this addiction. There are stories of young susceptible children falling into this addiction because they don’t see the in-game purchases as spending actual money. Thereby they push their parents into large, spiralling debts.
EA stands strong in support of its ‘loot boxes’
McHardy, the executive producer of EA, suggests that the FUT mode isn’t a form of gambling rather it’s a way for the players to be much more interactive while playing the video game.
Consequently, the EA team is highly vehement about their ‘loot boxes’ being ethical. They insist on the fans and media to refer to the ‘loot boxes’ as ‘surprise mechanics’ – maybe to make the activity seem a little less immoral.
The EA team has laid an argument that since the components of the ‘loot boxes’ can’t be traded, so it doesn’t count as gambling.
However, purchasing these ‘loot boxes’ itself requires money and if people are paying hundreds of Euros for something, its content must be adding value to them. Hence the claim of the EA team seems vague.
What’s the future of FUT?
The ‘card packs’ or ‘loot boxes’ or ‘surprise mechanics’ have already been banned in Belgium and Netherlands because of being a form of ‘unethical gambling’ (no age restriction).
In addition to this, if the lawsuits filed in France go against EA, it might well lead to an overall ban of the FUT in the European Union.
Also, it may be a huge blow for EA as about 20% of EA’s net revenue in 2018 was from selling FIFA Ultimate Team packs.
Hence, the EA Sports team needs to investigate into the ‘gambling’ aspect of the game. It is high time that EA along with other such game developers clearly classify what the ‘in-game purchases’ actually mean. Above all, ‘Gambling’ and ‘in-game purchases’ need a bifurcation.