EA Advertises Loot Boxes In Childrens’ Toy Catalogue

EA is under fire for advertising FIFA loot boxes in a toy magazine for children. The advertisement, which appears in the catalogue for Smyths Toys, lists a four-step guide to opening up packs in FIFA: Ultimate Team.

  • Step 1 – Start playing Ultimate Team
  • Step 2 – Use FIFA Points to open packs
  • Step 3 – Build your dream squads
  • Step 4 – Take them to the pitch and play

If you’re not familiar with it, FIFA Points are in-game currency that you have to purchase with real money. The packs themselves work like football cards or Pokemon cards – what’s inside is completely random. People are split whether or not it counts as gambling, with the UK government recently launching a survey on the loot box debate.

Back in July, the EU said loot boxes fall under ‘consumer protection’ and not gambling laws. Regardless of the distinction, people are doing real damage to their lives. One UK student recently blew almost £4,000 on FIFA packs. EA has tried to dodge the loot box controversy in the past by attempting to rebrand them as “surprise mechanics”, but now it just appears to be going all-in.

The Smyths Toys advert was originally shared on Twitter:

Many are criticising the decision to advertise these in a magazine aimed at kids, on the grounds that it could normalise spending real money on digital, random chance goods. While most publishers have left loot boxes behind, EA’s sports games seem to be leaning into them even more, due to them being a big profit driver at the company.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, EA boasted of “off the charts” spends in FIFA: Ultimate Team, which made 70% more than it did during the same quarter in the previous year.

This isn’t the first advertising misstep from EA, who recently put an in-game advert inside the full-priced game UFC 4.

FIFA players have also been calling for a boycott of the football series, since they feel there’s a lack of major improvements between annual releases. Within those complaints, many players also claim that Ultimate Team is built around pay-to-win, where players who spend the most money on FIFA packs come out on top.

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