The upcoming FIFA 23 will once again have loot boxes in its Ultimate Team mode. Publisher Electronic Arts confirmed to Eurogamer the return of the controversial in-game card packs.
During its quarterly financials last week, EA said that FIFA 22 was a significant contributor in the publisher's financial success. Engagement for the Ultimate Team mode was said to have a 40 percent increase, and the FIFA franchise has been one of EA's strongest franchise for years.
Like all microtransactions, Ultimate Team packs have come under fire for enabling gambling addictions and being harmful to children. However, EA's statement argues that the packs have been a staple of the series for a decade, and an aspect that FIFA players have come to love.
"Fans love that the game reflects the real-world excitement and strategy of building and managing a squad. Giving players the choice to spend if they want to is fair," wrote EA.
First debuting in 2012's FIFA 13, the Ultimate Team mode allows players to create their own team from real world players, then send that team off to play in online tournaments. The in-game players, and other items, are represented as cards of differing tiers. Similar to loot boxes in other games, players can purchasing the cards using real world money.
EA's statement continued by saying that spending real money on the in-game cards is "entirely optional," and stressed it's just as viable to earn the packs through playing the game. "Most players don't spend in game at all. For example, nine out of 10 FUT Packs opened in FIFA 22 were earned."
Following the release of FIFA 23 in September, the franchise will be rebranded as EA Sports FC going forward.
So much to loot (box), so much to see
EA's decision comes following the UK government's decision last month to not regulate loot boxes. The UK government believes children and young people shouldn't purchase them without parental approval, but believes that the onus should fall on game developers to regulate themselves.
Countries such as Belgium have taken greater steps to outlaw loot boxes entirely in recent years. However, researcher Leon Y. Xiao recently determined that outlawing the mechanic is easy to do, and harder to actually enforce.
Among its many cons, Xiao determined that outlawing loot boxes would drive revenue towards games companies that didn't comply with the law, and promote the "forbidden fruit effect." However, he did believe that other, less restrictive methods should be considered.