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Living with an addiction to packs in Fifa 14 ultimate team.

Living with an addiction to packs in Fifa 14 ultimate team.

Game Developer, Staff

April 30, 2014

9 Min Read

Living with an addiction to packs in Fifa 14 ultimate team.


A recent visit to an old friend of mine left me shocked. He had revamped his home. He was a new man. An addict. Cans of beer that were harvesting new life forms accompanied two day old pizza boxes lying on the floor. His frail, thin body only capable of opening the door after a five minute wait while he finished his online game of Fifa. He was a shadow of his former self. His demise spurred on by a clever ruse employed by EA to increase their profits and some personal issues that he was dealing with at the time. The combination of these elements had manifested an addict like a hobo or hard drug user. His life had become an endless cycle of work, Fifa and food. Here I will take a look at his former life, how he managed at the height of his addiction and how he works to having a full recovery.


So how does the economy work?


“FIFA Ultimate Team is a game mode in FIFA 14 where you earn, buy, transfer, and sell coveted Players to build your dream team. Manage your Squads, outsmart other gamers on the 24/7 Live Transfer Market, and compete against other gamers in dynamically updated Online and Single Player Tournaments and Seasons. You can access your Ultimate Team on your iPhone, Android or PC anywhere you have an internet connection.” (http://help.ea.com/en/article/fifa-ultimate-team-14-faq)


Packs cards and the market


To create a better ultimate team one must build points or coins, as they’re called, by either earning them or purchasing them. One can exchange coins for packs. The packs contain cards which could bring new players, improve the teams fitness or offer a new stadium to play in. Depending on the pack you buy or earn, the cards inside will have a higher or lower chance of being better or worse. They more you pay the more likely you will get good cards. The remaining or surplus cards can be then sold on the live transfer market, within the game, for coins. This facilitates a consumption of cards that is currently fueling Electronic Arts profits. It has also engulfed my friend and has become a big problem for him.

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A man at the peak of his life? Perhaps? He had it all going for him. His own home, a steady job (in the alcohol industry in Ireland) and love. A defined routine, busy with work during the weekdays. Evenings spent whining and dining his loving girlfriend. Weekends usually spent visiting his family and socializing with friends. Two holidays a year and enough money left over after paying bills to put away for a rainy day. His life seemed perfect. His home was beautifully decorated. A three seater leather couch sat facing a 50 inch LCD TV. Surround sound made watching movies a cinema like experience. His girlfriend adored his every move even when his moves were in the wrong direction. His interest in gardening made his front and back garden one of the most well kept on his road and the envy of his neighbours. His many close friends joining him every Sunday night for poker night.




My own busy schedule at the time created a bridge between us. There were a couple of warning signs, the first being a Facebook status declaring the loss of his girlfriend. This, I believe was the trigger for his addiction. His free time had multiplied and his loneliness drove him to spend more time on his playstation. The second was a call from a friend announcing that the poker nights had been canceled and that my friend was not seen in weeks. With no one around to talk to and depression kicking in, FIFA had become his new best friend. It offered him a release. It managed to clear his head and take his mind off the fact he had lost the most important part of his life. It offered new friendships with people from around the world.


With that call playing on my mind I finally caught a break and payed him a visit. The astonishment began as I turned his corner and from my rain soaked car window I could see his house buried in overgrowth. Looking like a scene from the last of us, his garden was a micro jungle. His well kept grass had been neglected. Our conversation began with how his girlfriend thought he was playing his computer too much. He was not spending enough time with her. That led to a mutual decision to split. That conversation was brief. The next one was more interesting for me. He began to describe the workings of the game and how he had been spending all his cash trying to build the ultimate team. At this point my attention began to drift around the room.


The TV was resting behind a bed of rubbish, empty beer cans and last weeks take away stopping the remote control from working. Empty cups scattered across the floor, and the crackle as your foot moved. This caused by the sticky cola that had been spillt and not cleaned in weeks. His fireplace housed take away leaflets and a mound of unpaid bills. The walls had turned a smoky yellow. A vast difference in such a short period of time. He had become a hermit. His pale skin and blisters on his thumb a clear result of his addiction. So what quality of life does he have now. His answer was that he had everything, but from where I was sitting he had nothing.


The cycle of addiction


I recall thinking at the time his addiction shared some common symptoms with gambling addiction. They both caused devastating harm to his social life, pushing him into a cycle of addiction. This addiction as with a gambling addiction cost him in money; at least 50% of his wages lost to his addiction. They both give a relief or satisfying feeling when the person engages with them. The chances of getting a good pack relate to the chances of winning a bet and the reward does bring joy to the indulgent. Unfortunately there are downsides. He became influenced by a black hole like cycle that pulled him in the more he payed. The cycle was that he felt lonely so he played, the playing took up his time and money leaving him isolated. This feeling of isolation led him back to playing.




Not long after he admitted he had a problem I realised he was on the road to recovery. His struggle aided by websites such as http://www.futwiz.com/en/packs/fifa14/gold. This website is a virtual pack generator which simulates opening a pack in Fifa. It gave him a slight relief, the best comparison would be a nicotine patch for a quitting smoker. He was now able to afford to meet up with friends on a Saturday and watch the football in the pub. He was back on Facebook. He has recently began dating again. He was back on track, the old friend I could remember was making a comeback. It's always a long road to recovery but he seems to be enjoying life more than ever. His house was coming along and my interior decorating skills offered as a friendly gesture to help a recovering addict.


So who is responsible him or EA?


Has he payed the price for making the wrong choice or has EA somehow tapped into his brain and are persuading him to spend money. Well that is not the underlying issue. That one i'll leave to whomever is reading. The bigger issue is much more important. It is harder to consider and to see it one must disregard who's fault this is or who can we blame and remember the addict, the friend. This person has a problem and more often than not this friend needs help to overcome their problem. So before we point the finger lets go and help that person. By helping that person you will revive a friend.


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