EA defend FIFA loot boxes – says paying to win is just like real life football

EA’s Chris Bruzzo defends the inclusion of loot boxes in the FIFA games and even says they reflect real world football.

Loot boxes have always been a controversial subject, but it’s begun to reach a point where even governments are debating whether they should be considered as gambling. The likes of Belgium have already made them illegal and there have been calls for regulation here in the UK.

But with loot box sales in the FIFA series generating so much revenue for EA, the company has no intention of ever removing them, even in the face of government crackdowns.

In an interview with Eurogamer about the subject, EA’s chief experience officer Chris Bruzzo defended their inclusion, saying that a good portion of the player base don’t spend any extra money at all on FIFA and that such a choice should be made available.

‘Eight out of 10 people don’t spend in FIFA at all. The ability to spend real-world money in the game represents choice for players,’ he said. ‘When I was 22, I could play and build the kind of team that I wanted to build.

‘Today, for me, the choice that I made, is to play the game, earn FUT coins and spend a little bit on FIFA Points to help top off my squad. And I feel like that’s a choice I should be allowed to make.’

He also made the rather bold claim that the inclusion of loot boxes helps make FIFA more reflective of real world football.

‘So when we put this game together, and I’m going to say we, I’m going to speak on behalf of the large group of many thousands of people who helped to bring this game to market every year, the idea is we are doing our best to reflect the real world of football.

‘We want to strengthen the connection between the real world sport and the game, the FIFA game that you play. Progress, engagement, this builds, just like it does in a real world season.’

As Eurogamer’s interviewer points out, of course, a club manager would go out and buy one player if they can afford it. In FIFA, you’re paying for a selection of random players.

Bruzzo doesn’t deny the issues that have arisen from the implementation of loot boxes, and has pointed to EA’s attempts to mitigate overspending. ‘I do think we need to talk about the extremes. I do think we need to work on real solutions for those players who find themselves in the extreme situation where they’ve lost control of their time where they’re spending. I agree. And again, we are taking action. We’re not just talking. We’re taking action.

‘We’re putting more information in front of players. We’re driving awareness around parental controls. And we put in preview packs as you know. We are ready to continue to engage in solutions. We really are.’

It’s hardly surprising for EA to take this stance. Only a couple of years ago, a representative appeared before the UK Parliament and described loot boxes as ‘surprise mechanics’ and even compared them to Kinder Eggs.

That said, even if EA never removes loot boxes, government regulation would still force them to change how they implement them.

It would also potentially bump the age rating of the FIFA games to an 18, meaning children (a core part of the FIFA audience) wouldn’t be able to legally buy the games for themselves and parents may be put off from buying them for birthdays and Christmases.

FIFA 22 is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC, and Stadia.

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