FIFA 23 will mark the end(opens in new tab) of Electronic Arts’ long-running partnership with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the global sport governing body that gives the videogame series its name. But it won’t mark the end of FIFA loot boxes, as EA has confirmed that randomized loot boxes will be back for the swansong.
It seemed possible that EA might finally pull the plug on the controversial FUT Packs, which can be earned through gameplay or purchased with real money and contain content like players and club items. EA introduced a twist on the formula called Preview Packs(opens in new tab) in FIFA 21, which enabled players to see the contents of packs before purchasing them, thereby eliminating the element of randomization. There’s also been growing pushback against loot boxes over the past few years that has led to heightened scrutiny of their more predatory practices and even outright bans in some countries.
The timing is right, too: EA is moving into a post-FIFA world, and I have to think that ditching loot boxes would be a good way to drum up both interest and goodwill in EA Sports FC.
On the other hand, FIFA Ultimate Team is still extremely popular, and FUT Packs make a lot of money. EA didn’t release specific figures in its most recent quarterly report, but it did describe the series as “exceptionally strong on a global basis,” and said that player engagement was up nearly 40% year-over-year. That builds upon a compound annual growth rate of almost 50% over the past ten fiscal years, which powered nearly $1.5 billion in sales(opens in new tab) in the 2020 fiscal year alone. The UK also recently recommended that loot boxes should not be regulated(opens in new tab) by the government, effectively clearing the way for continued FUT Pack sales as-is in one of the biggest markets for them.
The FIFA 23 website(opens in new tab) makes a passing reference to loot boxes in the new FIFA Ultimate Team, saying players can redeem a new currency called Stars “for players, packs, and more.” EA confirmed that the packs will be back, and defended its FIFA loot box practices overall, in a statement sent to Eurogamer.
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