The loot boxes in FIFA Ultimate Team mirror the economics of "real world football" and enable "player choice," claims EA chief experience officer Chris Bruzzo.
Bruzzo got into the nitty-gritty of FIFA's loot boxes in a recent interview with Eurogamer (opens in new tab), which focused on the disconnect between EA's monetization of non-sports games compared to IP like FIFA, with the former shifting away from loot boxes and the latter generally settling for more transparent loot boxes in recent years.
Asked why FIFA has loot boxes in the first place, Bruzzo argued that "we are doing our best to reflect the real world of football" and that the "gamification" of acquiring players through random packs mirrors the way players are shopped around in the actual sport. Bruzzo described the ability to buy "gameplay-affecting items", a term Eurogamer used to describe the players available in the game's loot boxes, as being "just like real-world football."
Bruzzo repeatedly states that "nine out of 10 FUT packs that are opened in FIFA are opened with coins" earned for free just by playing the game, with just one out of every 10 packs cracked open using premium currency purchased with real money. Moreover, "78 percent of all FIFA 21 players never spend anything in the game," he added, though it's worth remembering that the other 22% spends a lot of money annually, with EA reporting over $1.6 billion in revenue from Ultimate Team alone in its last financial year.
Eurogamer asserted that the option to outright purchase the best players in the game remains, to which Bruzz responded: "And that's called choice. That's called player choice. Players have a choice." However, he does notably specify that children, in particular, "should not be spending in our game."
Returning to the topic of player choice later in the article, Bruzzo says: "When I was 22, I could play and build the kind of team that I wanted to build. Today, for me, the choice that I made is to play the game, earn FUT coins and spend a little bit on FIFA Points to help top off my squad. And I feel like that's a choice I should be allowed to make."
Despite the advantage spending money can provide, Bruzzo was quick to claim that even if a worse FIFA player has mathematically super athletes on their team, they'd still lose to someone more experienced with the game. "FIFA Ultimate Team is by far and away a game of skill," he says. "And the player's skill is by far the fundamental contributor to that player's success rate."
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