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Between suspicious bugs and pay-to-win dynamics, the video game is unleashing the frustration of millions of e-players. Let’s take a dive into the factors behind it. FUT mode changed the game But what does money … Read More
Between suspicious bugs and pay-to-win dynamics, the video game is unleashing the frustration of millions of e-players. Let’s take a dive into the factors behind it.
But what does money have to do with a football simulation video game? Since 2009, they have a lot to do with it. It is the year in which the manufacturer EA launches the Fifa Ultimate Team (FUT) mode, first as an expansion for Fifa 09 and starting from Fifa 10 as an integral part of the game. FUT historically represents the entry of the series into the online world where, as we know, business models such as pay to win are widespread.
With this invention, EA has started a revolution in the world of football videogames that rivals, despite their attempts, have not been able to cope with: it has added to the match moment an entire ecosystem for the construction of the “perfect team” , its own ultimate team indeed, to be deployed in online competitions with other players (PvP). To compose your team you need player cards, real stickers that you get in two ways: by spending the credits accrued with the victories or, in a much faster way, by buying packages with unknown content on the game store. The packages can be purchased by spending game credits, but if you do not want to sweat on the virtual lawn to accumulate credits you can spend real money, indirectly by purchasing Fifa points. Fifa points are no different than Hut coins in NHL 21 or pretty much any other virtual currency in sports simulation video games.
Finally, to manage duplicates or players who do not interest us and exchange them for more interesting cards, there is a trading space that works like a real digital transfer market, which during peak hours gathers about 2 million players at the same time: like the real market, player cards have an evaluation modulated by supply and demand and it is possible to participate in timed auctions and other forms of trading. The proceeds, for EA, are staggering: it is estimated that in 2020 the Ultimate Team platform has generated a net profit of one and a half billion dollars, between the Fifa, NHL and Madden series.
Even if the perception of Fifa is that of a game rigged ad hoc to let you play (and spend) as much as possible. Experts explain that “in themselves the mechanics that the FUT mode of Fifa has put in place have nothing new, nor illegal. They are certainly skilled gamification strategies, but it is certainly not the first time that a game has evolved into business gamification “. Nor is money illegal; think for example of NHL 21 Hut mode which employs the same tactics where in a similar manner to Fifa you are incentivized to spend money to purchase in-game items and new players using its currency known as Hut coins and in a similar manner from creating a fantasy team of your choice to competing against other players the only thing that changes is the game from football to ice hockey and the technicalities related to both games.
“Even the strategies aimed at increasing the time spent playing” continues the expert, “are not a novelty introduced by Fifa. These strategies generally leverage the reward of overcoming a voluntarily accepted challenge. Time and resources invested increase the value of the stakes, be it a new player card or a more powerful sword in World of Warcraft, so that when you win a challenge that you considered valid, the sense of satisfaction leads you to repeat the process, accepting a new assignment from the game”. Of course, if the class action brought to light an algorithm-level scam, then it would change everything. It would be the game to choose who is better and it would no longer count the level of skills, nor the value of the team, nullifying the sense of the entire simulation. “
It must be said, however, that the gaming experience, in general, should not be designed to produce frustration in the long run. To quote game designer Jane McGonagall, video games are not just a waste of time, they offer the possibility of obtaining satisfactions that reality does not offer. “The real world”, reads his Reality is broken, “Does not motivate us effectively. Reality is not meant to maximize our potential. Reality is not meant to make us happ.Games, on the other hand, offer us rewards that we don’t find in reality. They teach us, inspire us and involve us in a way that reality cannot do”. By reproducing the dynamics of today’s football industry with unprecedented realism, EA has also ended up recreating the stresses, social climbers and economic patterns of the sector, to the point of perhaps having neglected the very meaning of the video game.