/Report: Leaked EA file shows how FIFA players are herded towards Ultimate Team

Report: Leaked EA file shows how FIFA players are herded towards Ultimate Team

EA is encouraging its FIFA team to “drive” players towards its loot box heavy FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) game mode, according to a leaked 54-page document obtained by CBC

The document was sent to CBC by a “gaming insider” and purportedly comes from EA’s sports division in Burnaby, British Columbia. It looks to be a presentation designed to prepare the team for the “Run up to FIFA 21,” and contains various focus points and numbers that detail the current state of the franchise along with future growth plans.

In one slide entitled ‘5 Things You Need To Know,’ EA details how “we have more active players at this point in FIFA than ever (5.3M+ FIFA DAU / 3M+ FUT DAU),” and explains the “team is squarely focused on engaging current players through mid-September.”

Notably, the publisher also states that FUT is “the cornerstone [of the franchise] and we are doing everything we can to drive players there.” Another page outlines how “all roads lead to FUT,” adding that “content teasers and targeted Aruba messaging will drive excitement and funnel players towards FUT from other modes.” 

For those unfamiliar with FUT, the game mode allows players to build their own custom team using players obtained from loot boxes that take the form of card packs. It leans heavily on those loot boxes, which can be purchased using FIFA Coins or FIFA Points (the latter of which can be bought using real-world cash), and has become a big earner for EA. FUT has previously drawn criticism from some regulators concerned by the possible links between loot boxes and gambling, and has even been amended in certain countries that have declared the monetization method illegal.

When asked about the document, an EA spokesperson noted it was “marked privileged and confidential” and is being “viewed without context.” The insider behind the leak told CBC that developers don’t feel good about loot boxes, but said “we can’t really do anything about it because at the end of the day, [the] company is trying to make money and satisfy investors.”

The CBC report comes a few months after EA began an investigation into real-money ‘content granting’ in FUT after it was alleged that some of its own employees had been selling rare player cards for real-world cash. The publisher said it had found evidence of “questionable activity” during the early stages of its investigation, and pledged to continue looking into the matter.