Peter Moore Says FIFA Ultimate Team Is Not Gambling, And He Is Absolutely Wrong — It’s Pay-To-Win
In a recent interview with Gamesindustry.biz, former EA Sports president Peter Moore described content acquisition in FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) as more surprise and delight than actual gambling, which is not only ridiculous, but it also ignores the truth that the game is mostly Pay-to-Win. More importantly, it is time to stop asking the people who depend on loot box revenue if their monetization structures approximate gambling, because there is an obvious conflict of interest that cannot be ignored.
FIFA Demands Yearly Spending Or You’ll Fall Behind
Put simply, FUT is the only game mode that counts within the FIFA series, providing the pathway for competitive players to “go pro” and compete in esports. Unfortunately, there are only a few ways to build a competitive team: grind slowly for rewards, manage the tedious in-game exchange market like a part-time stockbroker, or simply use your Visa or Mastercard to bypass those first two methods and buy FIFA Points, the premium currency used to purchase packs of randomized loot.
Moore, who has worked in several key roles at EA for years and was president of EA Sports when FUT was first introduced in 2008’s FIFA 09, gave his opinion on the controversy surrounding loot box mechanics in the video game industry. Using an incredibly outdated and inaccurate reference, Moore stated that FUT loot “goes all the way back to collecting cigarette cards in the 1920s and ’30s…The experience of opening something and not knowing what will be inside is appealing to many, hence the popularity of Ultimate Team unboxing videos.”
There are several points to discuss regarding Moore’s perception of unboxing, and all of them are problematic, because they either point to a misunderstanding of how loot box mechanics work and why they are criticized, or far worse, his argument made in bad faith that purposefully misdirects the criticisms of the monetization structure.
First, unboxing videos are not popular because of any sort of nostalgic, misaligned sense of surprise and delight, they are popular because they showcase content creators acquiring the best content in the game at a disproportionate level that most casual players will never experience. This is why the top unboxing videos, those with between 10 and 20 million views, describe unpacking Ronaldo, Messi, or other statistically improbable pulls. The odds of pulling these all-stars is ridiculously low, so of course, videos of such a rare occurrence will be enjoyable to watch.
Collectable? Maybe, But Also Worthless After A Year
Second, and far more problematic, is the comparison to old collectable cards. When Moore likens opening FUT packs to collectable cards from his childhood, there are some major problems to address. First, the pulls from FUT packs are not real in any sense of the word, they are digital and have a finite length of time before becoming all but useless. Unlike the collectables of Moore’s childhood, someone who spends real money to purchase FUT packs does not actually receive a tangible good, they only gain access to something digital.
Next, while someone buying collectables might be happy with anything because they seek to complete a collection, FIFA is not about collecting all the players, it is about getting the best players to make a competitive squad. Lastly, and something that is often swept under the rug when it comes to FIFA, is that each subsequent game in the series, released yearly like clockwork, makes all previous items and players virtually useless.
This is because, with each “new” game in the series, you cannot transfer coins, items, unopened packs, and more. The Terms of Service makes sure to rub this in your face as well, stating “If you’ve got Ronaldo on your team and you’re buying FIFA 21, then it’s time to say goodbye to him. None of the cards you currently have in your club will be transferred to FUT 21.” If you spent any money at all in the game, absolutely nothing carries over to the next title. Want that Ronaldo all-star again? Just swipe your Visa or Mastercard for a better chance out the gate.
A Sense Of…Pride And Accomplishment?
Overall, Moore’s notion that you open FUT packs out of some sense of wonder and excitement is fitting, given that EA made the infamous declaration that players would get a sense of pride and accomplishment from maxing out their credit cards in Star Wars Battlefront II.
The problem, of course, is that even if some players choose not to spend any real money in the game, there are also too many other players who get sucked into the trap of spending their hard-earned real money on these digital goods that they have no real ownership over, that are doomed to be all but useless less than a year later. One UK student spent $3,800 in their pursuit of glory or addiction if you prefer, and ad placements came under fire after adverts were clearly aimed at children.
It is impossible to say exactly how much players spend in-game because EA does not release that information. Instead, we must go by approximations. According to Nick Akerman in 2019, FUT Economist showed that top players were competing with teams worth approximately $27,000 in real-world value at official esports events, translating to how much you might need to spend to acquire the cards used with packs. These were provided to players, but they needed to use their own teams to qualify and are completely unrepresentative of what an average player might accomplish.
In a survey, Akermaan shows that, thankfully, a large portion of players in 2019 played without spending any money. On the other hand, most players do spend real money.
Moreover, Moore and EA may forever engage in the bad-faith argument that their in-game monetization structure is not gambling, but in the end, that specific term is not relevant. In November 2020, EA went ahead and added new suit tools in FIFA Playtime, allowing players (and their parents) tools to track time spent in-game, matches played, and among other things, how much premium currency you have spent in-game.
This was part of EA’s Positive Play Project, which claims to be part of a long-term initiative towards improving their games for a younger audience, and yet, they do not explicitly provide you with an exact amount of real money spent in-game, which is the most important stat that some players could use.
In the end, this is where Moore’s comments need to be rejected, flatly, and no one should even be asking his opinion about how closely EA’s loot boxes approximate gambling. Whether Moore genuinely believes his nostalgic, inaccurate comparison to his childhood, or whether he is making his statements in bad faith, it is irrelevant. As Upton Sinclair so eloquently put it, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
The time has come to classify loot boxes as gambling mechanics, and we need to stop giving game companies and influential industry veterans any platform to argue otherwise.
NEXT: Diablo Immortal Is Free To Play, But Features Several Pay To Win Mechanics
- TheGamer Originals
The Fantastic, Science-Fiction, and Horror are Patricio’s go-to genres for literature, film, and gaming. Dead by Daylight is his daily bread and butter as he writes for TheGamer. He teaches Spanish at McGill by day and writes next to his Staffy x Boxer rescue from the SPCA by night.
Patricio graduated from the University of Alberta in 2006, 2012, and will have one more degree in hand by 2020. Innovation in game development, the economics of making games profitable, and the downward, decadent spiral of former great gaming companies fuels his soul to write daily. Will Blizzard Entertainment do something controversial often enough to keep this reference relevant? Patrick certainly believes they will.
Source: Read Full Article