A leaked internal EA document has revealed that the company intentionally pushes players towards a game mode featuring loot boxes in FIFA 21. This comes at a moment when loot boxes - and EA in particular - are under intense scrutiny around the world.
What does the leaked EA document say about FIFA 21?
This story comes courtesy of CBC, which says it's obtained a leaked 54-page document supplied by a "gaming insider". In the documents, EA describes FIFA Ultimate Team as "the cornerstone" of the game, and says it's "doing everything" to drive players there. EA's mission statement for FIFA 21 appears to be "all roads lead to FUT", with another point on one of the documents stating that targeted messaging will "funnel players towards FUT from other modes".
CBC's source also provided them another internal EA document (which was not publicly released) in which the company refers to FIFA 21 Ultimate Team currency as "grind currency". The "insider", as CBC calls him, said EA games are "designed to be boring" in an effort to drive players to spend real money on loot boxes. According to the insider, he and some of his colleagues "don't feel good" about loot boxes in gaming, but they're powerless to do anything because EA is "trying to make money and satisfy investors". An EA spokesperson refused to comment on the documents beyond suggesting they were being "viewed without context" and that interpretations of the documents' data were "misinformed".
What does this tell us about EA, loot boxes, and FIFA 21?
This might not come as a surprise if you've been following EA's recent fortunes. In March this year, "EAGate" saw a scandal surrounding EA employees trading in Ultimate Team content directly, with EA issuing a statement pledging to investigate the individuals responsible. Given that EA is trying to claim Ultimate Team is fair and that players should feel like they're getting a fair chance when purchasing loot boxes, this obviously doesn't look good. EA is also in hot water in countries such as the Netherlands, South Korea, and Canada, with its loot box systems directly under the microscope in various lawsuits and rule violations.
For its own part, EA says Ultimate Team is one of the most "popular game experiences" in the world. Spokesperson Charlie Fortescue said that all EA games - including FIFA 21 - can be played without spending real-world money. This, however, wouldn't seem to chime with the community's feelings. FIFA 21 player ScudzTV estimated it would take him around 22,000 hours of gaming, or 69 straight days of trading, to obtain the team he wanted without spending any real money.
Ultimate Team modes across all of EA's sports franchises - that's FIFA, Madden, and NHL, among others - account for almost 30% of the company's overall revenue. In 2019, EA raked in a staggering $1.4 billion from Ultimate Team purchases alone. With that in mind, it's not likely that this debate will stop raging anytime soon. We've reached out to EA for comment on this story and will bring you more as soon as we get it.
Do you play FIFA Ultimate Team? How do you feel about it? Let us know in the comments below!