FIFA Ultimate Team card packs are not gambling according to Electronic Arts (EA) president by time the randomized mechanics were introduced in 2008 Peter Moore. Moore shared his thoughts on the hot subject in an interview related to his recent appointment as a director at mobile sports games developer Nifty Games.
Origin of Card Packs
Commenting on loot boxes and card packs EA initially integrated into its FIFA 09 game, the former CEO of Liverpool FC outlined the concept of card packs originated from sports enthusiasm, a concept going all the way back to the 20s and 30s, when people used to collect cigarette cards.
Moore fondly remembered his childhood days and the UK’s Lucky Bags, a form of randomized packs delivering sweets, toys and activities, as well as the emotions related to the moment of opening something like that without having the slightest idea what was inside. That unknowing defined the popularity of card packs in FIFA Ultimate Team, Moore noted.
“People loved it,” Moore said, pointing to the sense of uncertainty, outlining that concept of surprise and delight which differentiates card packs from the highly criticized in the recent years loot boxes, as well as the fact that card packs always deliver something.
“This is a personal view, but the concept of surprise and delight vs gambling… on a continuum, they’re a long way from each other. You buy or grind your way up to getting a gold pack, you open it up, and you’re either happy or you think it’s a crappy pack. I don’t see that as gambling, per se — but again, this is my personal view as an outsider right now.”Peter Moore, Director, Nifty Games
Loot boxes were the focus of heavy criticism as many consider them developing gambling addiction at an early age due to their presence in video games. Some governments argued the concept of loot boxes constitutes gambling, and Belgium and the Netherlands went a step further by classifying them as such and demanded developers of games to remove such mechanics before a game is offered to the public for sale.
EA Adapts to Meet Regulatory Requirements
The backlash intensified in 2017, especially around games such as EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2, which replicated FIFA Ultimate Team concept of collecting stickers and cards, defending a point of view similar to the one Moore expressed, namely, that players always received something for their purchase.
In December, Moore’s former employer EA started re-examining its FIFA Ultimate Team mode terms and conditions, in response to the position of several European regulatory bodies which slammed the mechanics as gambling, and listening to different opinions is something EA was always good at.
“One thing they’re always good at is getting feedback and realising ‘You know what, probably shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘That was the wrong decision, it wasn’t gamer-first,’ and then pulling back and making a different decision.”Peter Moore, Director, Nifty Games
But the most telling factor for the success of a particular game should be whether players like it, Moore concluded, pointing to the EA’s balance sheet for confirmation.
Ultimate Team modes helped EA generate $1.49 billion and accounted for 27% of the company’s net revenue for the previous financial year, and contributed to more than $1 billion for 2 financial years preceding the last.