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Over A Dozen Groups Want An Investigation Into FIFA

EA may soon have to answer for its loot boxes in the "FIFA" series. Over a dozen different activist groups have filed a complaint with the FTC, stating that the series exploits children with its randomized mechanics. Going by the name Fairplay, the brands alleged that some elements of "FIFA" were similar to gambling. For those unfamiliar, in "FIFA" games there is a popular mode called "FIFA Ultimate Team" where players can put together a team of players from different leagues. To acquire new players, you have to get them from card packs, which can either be slowly obtained by playing the game or purchased. The complaint argues that these mechanics in a game that children can and do play are exploitive. EA has also dropped "FIFA" from future titles moving forward, but the complaint has less to do with the name of the game and more to do with its mechanics.

According to Axios, the main argument is that the game's mechanics are exploitative of children because the game promises a competitive advantage if you purchase the packs, which obscure the real cost by using virtual currency to make the transaction. The group also argues that the probabilities of getting the best cards can be obscured in the game; It could take thousands of dollars to get the best cards, but buyers don't know the odds up front. This isn't the first time that EA's "FIFA" loot boxes have caused an uproar, but it's a bigger push than ever seen before. Here's what EA has to say in defense of its loot boxes.

EA argues that players don't have to buy packs if they don't want to

EA representatives previously said in 2021 that players have the choice to engage with the loot boxes, arguing that players aren't obligated to buy them (via Eurogamer.) EA also said that it has listed the odds for each card pack in the game in an effort to be more transparent.

Ultimately, the advocacy group wants the FTC to investigate EA, to see if its marketing of loot boxes towards children could be considered a problem. EA makes billions of dollars via its Ultimate Team modes in both "FIFA" and "Madden" (via Axios) and an argument could be made that the systems are gambling because of their chance-based nature.

Whether or not the FTC chooses to investigate is likely going to be based on if the commission believes that loot boxes should be considered gambling, since companies cannot target children with ads about gambling. The issue is that since the real-world value of the cards you receive is somewhat nebulous, it's hard to argue if you are winning something of monetary value and therefore gambling. Between the split with "FIFA" and its unfortunate consequences, plus the loot box controversy, EA is in for a bad time.