One of the big gaming conversations at the end of the 2010s was about microtransactions. And in 2020 the conversation continues with a California class-action lawsuit against EA and their soccer-sim, FIFA. In the suit, the plaintiff, Kevin Ramirez, claims that FIFA’s “Ultimate Team” mode is predatory and is akin to gambling. According to a report from videogameschronicle.com, Ramirez is seeking $5 Million in damages.
Loot Box Mother Lode
The industry practice microtransactions provide little bits of extra content that you purchase within the game. In some instances, like League of Legends or Overwatch, what you get is cosmetic. You buy in-game currency or loot boxes to make your character look cooler. But in the case of sports games like FIFA, they are a vital part of progression online. The FIFA Ultimate Team Mode, or FUT, makes you open “packs” to get new players and coaches. While you can earn the packs through gameplay, it’s nearly impossible to create a competitive team without spending real-life money. The lawsuit claims that FUT’s mechanics hook gamers in the same way casinos hook gamblers.
“(EA) ….relies on creating addictive behaviors in consumers to generate huge revenues” and “[FUT Packs] are predatory and designed to entice gamers to gamble.”
Quote from VGC
It’s hard to argue against just how much cash FUT rakes in for EA. The game giant reported that FUT makes up around 28% of its total revenue, around $1.35 Billion in 2019. The mode also doesn’t show any signs of slowing down with FUT already making $1.5 Billion in 2020 with over four months left in the year.
This isn’t the first time that EA’s faced a legal firestorm over how they monetize their games post-release. Earlier this year, FIFA was hit with a lawsuit in France. And in 2018, Belgium ruled that FUT was indeed gambling and the sale of packs is now prohibited in the country. But the troubles weren’t limited to just the soccer game as EA faced massive backlash for Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and its loot boxes.
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