To Hammer Home a Point

On Sunday I wrote a post titled ‘Why Have FIFA Games Got Worse?‘, the purpose of this article was to try to pinpoint what has caused this decline that I perceive as happening (I’m sure some disagree). After a brief talk with the blogs other resident words guy, he made his feelings on the topic clear, pointing to microtransactions as the downfall of the series. This links into EA neglecting other areas of the title – such as career mode. Also, evidence backing up this point of view is clear through the numbers: each copy of FIFA released in 2016 made $121 off a $60 initial price tag.

However, what really hammered home this point today, and prompted the writing of this quick follow up piece, was a Youtube video I found whilst procrastinating on some work I really should be doing right now. This video by Youtuber ChrisMD appeared in my suggested videos, despite rarely watching FIFA related content. I saw the title “What Does Spending £5000 on FIFA 18 Packs Get you?” and was interested, and I’ve seen ChrisMD’s videos before and see him as a fairly honest Youtuber so gave it a chance. Well, the video is a greater illustration of the point then I could achieve, so here it is:

If you are short of time (like I am right now, I really need to write this paper!), here is a quick run-down. Chris spends just over £5000 on “special” FIFA packs. In the process obtaining some good cards, but none of the top-top tier cards. Many of these cards are duplicates. He calculates at the end that of the £5000 spent, he received 9,875,000 in-game coins – enough for maybe two Pele cards.

He also calculates that if he had just bought £5000 worth of coins he would have received 56,000,000 coins. Which of course is not an EA approved method and can get your account banned as far as I am aware. To break even with this exchange rate Chris mentions that he would have to get “Team of the Group Stage” Ronaldo 15 and half times. That card was not received within the £5000 spent by the way.

Even mentioned towards the end of the video is “you know that one friend who can’t resist sticking money on 100K packs when they come out, just link them this video right now”. Just for clarity 100k packs are the “special packs” and are worth around £15 each in FIFA points – EA’s work around fake currency to hide the fact you are using real money and to hide the fact this is actually gambling.

I can see why people (if I had the data I would assert that this is mainly kids, but I don’t and I don’t want to belittle the adults caught in this vicious cycle of gambling addiction either) enjoy opening these packs, I used to get a rush as a kid opening Pokemon cards. In many ways, these are synonymous with Pokemon cards: the cards hold some social ‘prestige’, they are usable in the framework of a game, they can be traded (albeit indirectly in FIFA). However, you didn’t have to pay $60/£45 for the privilege of buying Pokemon cards, and I could directly buy Pokemon cards that I wanted if I wasn’t an 8 year old with no concept of probability.

To conclude, microtransactions, in general, are a blight on the gaming industry. There has been a definite trend towards the acceptability of cosmetic microtransactions in games such as Overwatch which people tend to give a pass for. Hell, even one of my favourite games Rainbow Six: Siege has a microtransaction system. In these cases, an argument can be made about increasing the play-time of the game, especially with Siege and it’s multiple free DLC. However, cases such as those seen in FIFA, a yearly release, where microtransactions are used as a way of essentially gambling for play-pieces that everyone wants (I’d love to be able to play with the legendary Henry card for example) is unacceptable and exploitative.

In short:

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