FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is the most popular mode in EA‘s FIFA series, engrossing millions of players in squad building. But it‘s also designed to monetize fans through in-game purchases of FIFA Points. This premium currency is used to buy random player packs – a digital lottery leveraging the same addictive mechanics as gambling. For those desperate to land top superstar cards, it‘s easy to get hooked on buying Points endlessly while chasing the elusive rush of a big win. This leads many in the community to desperately search for ways to obtain Points for free. But in reality – the system is designed to encourage spending at all costs.
As a long-time FUT player, I‘ve watched others fall into the trap of reckless Point spending in pursuit of their ultimate team. Let‘s dive deep into the predatory monetization of FUT, and why you should think twice before buying into EA‘s billion dollar cash cow.
FUT Leverages the Addictive Dopamine Rush of Pack Openings
Opening packs is undoubtedly the most exciting part of FUT. Seeing the live animation as cards spin and finally land on your big pull is a dopamine rush. This taps into the same psychological response and intermittent rewards loop seen in slot machines and loot boxes. The randomized nature has no skill involved – it‘s 100% based on chance, making openings extremely addictive.
EA actively fuels this gambling-like addiction through limited time special packs with juiced odds during promos. They know much of their revenue comes from players compulsively ripping open hundreds of packs during these windows in hopes of securing limited superstars. It‘s a predatory system optimized to monetize our engagement as much as possible.
Billions in Revenue Show the System is Working as Intended
In 2021, FIFA Ultimate Team pulled in an estimated $1.62 billion in net revenue for EA. That‘s up 18% from 2020, and equivalent to around $6 million dollars earned per day off players. These astronomical figures show that the monetization tactics are working exactly as designed.
EA continues doubling down on Point purchased packs as their primary revenue source. For the upcoming FIFA 23, the standard edition will include FUT Packs as a perk – further normalizing spending. As long as profits remain sky-high, there is minimal incentive to move away from this model that bleeds players dry.
Trading for Coins is Hard Work – By Design
Earning coins through gameplay to build your team requires a major grind. To afford top meta cards, you‘d need to play hundreds of matches while completing objectives, Squad Battles and Weekend League. Most casual players don‘t have 10+ hours a week to dedicate solely toward grinding coins.
This is by design – EA wants the path of least resistance to be buying Points. An artificial coin sink even exists by requiring squad fitness items to heal your team between matches. The auction house tax also means you lose coins with each transaction. These friction points encourage spending real money as the faster alternative.
Streamers & Creators Drive Point Purchases Through Peer Influence
Popular FIFA streamers and creators wield huge influence over the community. Viewers see their idols constantly buying Points and ripping packs during promos. When a big pull is landed, it looks fun and rewarding – precisely the reaction EA want new players to have.
These pack openings also benefit creators via affiliate commission systems. For example, EA‘s Gamechanger program pays creators up to 10% of the revenue from any Point purchases referred by them. So it‘s a win-win for creators to push Points through "pack battles" and openings that influence fans to buy more.
Top creators easily refer over $100k in Points yearly. With EA taking a 30% platform cut, that‘s still $70k cash going straight into an individual‘s pockets. You better believe they will promote Points at every opportunity with sums like that on the line.
The Billion Coin Black Market Also Benefits EA
The demand for FIFA coins as an alternative to Points has spawned a huge black market of coin sellers. But buying coins through unauthorized third parties comes with extreme risk. EA actively bans thousands of accounts yearly for black market coin transactions.
However, the existence of this shady underground coin economy still ultimately benefits EA. They can put out messages condemning coins sellers and warning against buying from them – which further reinforces Points as the only "safe" purchase option.
Banned players also often repurchase the game with a fresh account. Some will even buy more Points than before to quickly rebuild their lost clubs. So while the black market damages FIFA‘s economy, it also leads to more copy sales and Point purchases in the long run.
Just How Much Money Is Needed for Top Icons?
To demonstrate the ludicrous amount of money required for elite FUT icons through Points alone, here is a quick calculation:
The highest rated icon Pele has a 0.03% pack probability from 15k packs, which cost 300 FP ($2.49) each.
To have a 50% statistical chance at packing Pele, you would need to open 2,300 15k packs, costing 690,000 FP ($5,720).
But you could get very unlucky and require 5,000 or even 10,000+ 15k packs costing up to $83,000 before finally packing Pele!
No wonder so many turn to black market coins or third party services selling Pele accounts. Very few can afford these astronomical costs for top icons.
Here Are the Actual Odds of Packing Promos
To demonstrate just how low the chances are of packing the top promo cards, here are the estimated pack probabilities:
|15k Pack Probability
As you can see, even the lower rated promo cards have less than a 5% chance to be packed. You would need to open thousands of dollars worth of packs for a realistic shot. Buying Points is no guarantee of landing big names.
Cautionary Tales from Former "Addicts"
To demonstrate the dark side of Points addiction, here are testimonials from two former heavy spenders:
"I used to drop $500+ every promo without thinking. I was chasing the pack high. Now my credit card debt is out of control but I‘m too ashamed to tell my wife. If I could go back I would have never bought my first Points bundle." – John D.
"I spent about $2000 in a month on Points when I first got into FUT. I promised myself I would stop after packing an icon but I just kept chasing and wasting money. Now I‘ve sworn off buying Points and have to grind for months just to catch up." – Caleb W.
These stories demonstrate how FIFA Points can quickly trigger compulsive behavior. Before you know it, your bank account has been drained with little to show for it.
Think Carefully Before Buying Points
I‘m not here to condemn those who buy Points responsibly to selectively speed up their squad building. But the predatory nature of FUT monetization is undeniable. If you choose to buy Points, do so with extreme caution and control.
Evaluate if you are playing for enjoyment, or just to feel the fleeting dopamine rush of openings. Be honest about your motivations. Keep spending in check by setting strict limits before purchasing bundles. Take breaks from the game if you feel yourself becoming obsessive or addicted.
For the majority of players, avoiding Points altogether and sticking to earned coins is the safest path. But everyone has different financial situations – just be conscious of how the system attempts to exploit you.
At the end of the day, FUT is a game. Don‘t let it negatively control your behaviour. Play responsibly, and always remember that no card is worth ruining your life over.