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What This New FIFA 21 Feature Could Mean For EA's Future

EA, the company behind popular sports franchises like Madden NFL and FIFA, is well known in the gaming world for its extensive use of microtransactions. In fact, it's tough to pick a big-name title from EA's portfolio that doesn't include them. The aforementioned Madden and FIFA both have them. Apex Legends has them. Past releases like Star Wars: Battlefront 2 were absolutely raked over the coals for forcefully including microtransactions. These bite-sized purchases are a revenue stream EA seems quite happy with, though regulators in some countries haven't quite been so cheery about them.

The threat of regulation, in fact, may have prompted EA to take a pretty big step with regard to microtransactions in FIFA 21. That game, which released on Oct. 9, is getting a new feature on Nov. 17 targeted at giving players more information about how they play. The new addition, called FIFA Playtime, appears at first glance to be nothing more than parental controls. However, there may be more to it than that.

According to EA, FIFA Playtime was created "to give more transparency and control over your experience" in FIFA 21. That includes not just how much time you've spent playing, but also how much money you've spent, too. From there, either you — or your parents, if you're a younger player — can dial in some settings to control your playtime in FIFA 21. EA wrote, "You'll be able to choose how many matches you can jump into," for instance. A limit can also be placed on "the amount of FIFA Points you purchase and the number of FUT Packs opened." The ability to limit playtime really seems as though it's geared toward parents, and who knows: perhaps they'll find this feature very useful.

The spending cap, though? One could argue this is a good feature to add if EA wants to face less scrutiny for its microtransactions.

At the moment, the Ultimate Team modes in Madden and FIFA are built to reward those who spend a lot of money. It may not surprise you to learn some people do just that. Opponents of these types of transactions have argued that they bring out addictive tendencies in some players, causing them to spend and spend to build the perfect squad. By making data on how much someone has spent more accessible — and by letting them turn on spending caps — perhaps EA believes it can please a few of its critics.

Whether or not that'll happen is anyone's guess. It's also not clear if EA will adapt FIFA Playtime to some of its other microtransaction-heavy titles. Regardless, this move is one that could change EA's approach to FIFA's Ultimate Team mode going forward. Fans will have to wait and see if the rest of the company's lineup follows suit.