Many of you, just like me, have been playing FIFA religiously since the days before Ms Dynamite lit up the games’ soundtrack back in 2003. However, despite the countless hours played or numerous controllers broken, it seems the game we all know and love may be losing the charm that kept us coming back.
Don’t get me wrong, the game is by no means in decline, the numbers show that. FIFA 18 managed to sell a whopping 10 million units worldwide and ever since EA released the first ‘FIFA International Soccer’ back in 1993 they have managed to have pretty much uninterrupted market dominance over football gaming. EA churned out classic after classic each year, making it clear they were focused on creating a game that simulated every aspect of the sport in the right way. This is where their famous catchphrase “EA Sports: It’s in the game” originates.
But there’s something new “in the game”… and it is micro transactions.
If you’ve played pretty much any of EA’s releases in the past few years then you’ll certainly know what these are, but if you haven’t, they are essentially any purchase you make inside of a game, after the initial purchase. FIFA use these to sell FIFA points, a digital currency for Ultimate Team. In fact, EA earned $1.68 billion through micro transactions in 2017 alone.
You can’t deny that these massive digital sales are impressive and they have undoubtedly revolutionized the gaming industry as a whole.
Micro transactions are the leading force behind this and have become a great source of income for developers, thanks to our ever increasingly digitized society.
So what’s the issue?
Well… this isn’t the first time FIFA have used digital currency and micro transactions for their Ultimate team platform, however, many players are becoming aggravated with the reliability of micro transaction drop rates. Meaning that some players could spend thousands and get nothing good and another player could spend £3 and get the best player in the world. This has lead to a growing narrative that FIFA has become a ‘pay-to-win’ game and therefore spending more and more money has become a necessity to be competitive.
Could this be dangerous?
Chris Lee, Hawaiian state representative, held a press conference where he labelled micro transactions as ‘predatory gaming’ , and he is currently working on legislation to ban children from buying them. On top of this, in a recent Reddit post , he added that ‘these kinds of micro transactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are designed’.
According to the NPD, 91 % of children age 2-17 play video games… and these numbers are rising, coming up nearly 13 percent from 2009. The gaming community clearly has large number of minors within it, which only seems to be growing, so could these shifts towards micro transactions be influencing them? Could this be installing bad gambling habits in the kids? I guess only time will tell.
For now, you may be interested in a Reddit post and campaign called #FixFifa that has been gaining a lot of backing online. This movement has also gained over 40,000 signatures through their Change.org petition.