FIFA 23 will continue to feature loot boxes and micro-transactions in its Ultimate Team mode, it has been confirmed.
The mode lets players recruit famous footballers to their virtual teams as if they were trading cards, as the footballers are randomly gained from packs, with better players having a lower chance of appearing. They can be bought through in-game currency earned through playing, or with real money, and the latter earns hundreds of millions of dollars for publisher EA every year.
Multiple European countries are looking to follow Belgium's lead and outright ban loot boxes and micro-transactions, or at least regulate them more heavily. A UK government report found a link between these systems and issues with gambling, mental health, and finances, but elected to not include them in the Gambling Act due to "significant implementation challenges".
Now EA has issued a statement (via Eurogamer) announcing its intention to continue with Ultimate Team as it is.
"We wholeheartedly believe that Ultimate Team and FUT Packs, which have been part of the game for more than a decade, are a part of FIFA that players love – fans love that the game reflects the real-world excitement and strategy of building and managing a squad.
"Giving players the choice to spend if they want to is fair. It's worth saying that spending is entirely optional in our game, and we do not encourage spending over earning rewards through game play. FUT Packs work in just the same way whether they are paid for or earned, and most players don't spend in game at all. For example, nine out of 10 FUT Packs opened in FIFA 22 were earned."
EA's admission that only 10% of FUT Packs were bought with real money, when it makes hundreds of millions a year, ties into reports about 'whales' – individuals who get hooked on micro-transactions and spend hundreds if not thousands on them.
The National Gambling Treatment Service offers free, confidential help for anyone who is worried about their gambling, or someone else's gambling. Call the 24-hour freephone National Gambling Helpline on 0808 802 0133, or visit begambleaware.org. Further information and resources can be found on the Gambling Commission's website.
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