The True Cost of FIFA Ultimate Team

The True Cost of FIFA Ultimate Team

Someone clever once said that there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. I’d argue that there’s a third. Every year, like clockwork, your favourite gaming franchise pumps out its perennial, barely iterated offering to grumbling fans. And grumble they might, but pay they do. Not that we are criticising FIFA as a game, far from it. Football is hardly a new IP, and the good people at EA have all but perfected the art in video game format. Iteration is really all that’s left in the bag.

We could sit here all day bemoaning the practice of churning out the same, tired format of game each year. It’s hardly novel practice in the industry, and certainly not confined to sports simulators. But whatever your stance, ultimately it comes down to consumer behaviour. To force the hand of change we must first change ourselves. In other words, stop buying, and they’ll stop selling. But whatever, it’s an argument as old as the virtual hills themselves.

When £70 for FIFA Isn’t Quite Enough

But the industry has moved on from the somewhat primitive practice of ending their profiteering at point of sale, lest £70 for a game fall short of filling corporate coffers. A far more insidious practice has taken root within our beloved medium, and this is where we take umbrage. We are of course referencing microtransactions, and within this callous realm EA sits atop its poisoned throne. To drill deeper still, few vehicles for microtransaction delivery come close to the FIFA Ultimate Team gameplay mode. Ostensibly a means of creating your very own dream team, this insidious device is so profitable, an EA employee was recently investigated for selling player cards on the black for thousands of pounds.

It seems the community has had enough of this flagrant con loosely dressed up as gameplay. Twitter user @ScudzTV has calculated the real-world cost of creating his own dream eleven, in both hours invested and hard earned cash. He embarked on a seven tweet tirade, illustrating that to achieve this dizzying feat, a person would need to invest either twenty two thousand hours playing, or a poultry £80k ($111k).

You can see the full thread below:

EA stands stoically by their conviction that all players can achieve the team of their dreams with gameplay alone. The trouble is, gameplay seems to be an amorphous word these days. Since when, exactly, did creating a football game necessitate the implementation of a literal stock exchange, underpinned with real world money? A quick look at the responses to the Tweet focus on how there are quicker, more intelligent ways to manipulate this mechanic, sure. But what the giddy fuck is this doing in a sports simulator played, if not in the majority, by a significant number of minors?

Let’s Just Call It Gambling Already

The good news is that an increasing number of countries around the world have had enough of EA’s malevolent machinations. Belgium and the Netherlands pave the way in Europe, with the UK looking to follow suit soon. Just last week, Germany’s Bundestag changed wording on its Youth Protection Act to suggest that all games with loot boxes should carry an 18 rating. Of course, FIFA and EA are just one of the offenders, and we still may have to wait a little before the law comes into force. In the meantime, we’ll all have to find something to pass the time. If you need me, I’ll be grinding Neymar.