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Is Ultimate Team free in FIFA 23?

The short answer is – yes, FIFA 23‘s Ultimate Team mode is free-to-play friendly. You can start building a squad and competing online without spending any money.

But to really thrive in FUT long-term and build an elite dream team, you‘ll likely need to spend money on FIFA Points at some stage.

Let me explain in more detail…

Why Ultimate Team is So Popular

Over the years, FUT has become the most played game mode in the FIFA series. Fans love the squad building concept – hunting for player packs, buying and selling on the transfer market, completing SBCs, and constantly iterating your squad.

It taps into our natural urge to collect things and gives a huge sense of accomplishment when you finally obtain that icon player you‘ve coveted for months.

According to EA, more than 30 million people play FIFA Ultimate Team every year. And over 7.6 million FUT matches are played per day on average.

But why is it so addictive?

FUT provides short and long-term goals that keep you coming back. There‘s always a new objective player to grind for, an SBC to complete, or division rank to push for. And the regular content updates and in-form cards keeps things fresh all year long.

Let‘s look at some behavioural psychology factors that make FUT so successful:

Random Rewards – The thrill of opening packs and not knowing what you‘ll get triggers chemical releases in the brain. Pack openings scratch that lottery itch.

Team Building – Squad crafting lets you tap into your creativity and problem solving instincts. It‘s an ongoing optimization game.

Status & Achievement – Building your dream team and climbing online divisions provides a sense of status and pride as your squad improves.

Social Connection – Playing against online friends and following content creators on Twitch/YouTube builds a sense of community.

Competition – Test your skills against others while constantly trying to improve your squad to gain an edge. Very addictive loop.

So in many ways, FUT is similar to collection-based card games like Pokemon or Magic The Gathering. The desire to collect is baked into human nature. Combine that with football fandom and online competition, and you have a truly addictive game mode tailor-made to consume your spare time!

Now let‘s get back to the key question – whether all of this is free or if you need to pay.

Starting Out in FUT

The good news is that FIFA 23 allows you to dive into Ultimate Team without handing over a penny.

Once you load up FUT 23 for the first time, you‘ll be given a starter pack containing player items, contracts, healing cards, and loan icon players to get you going.

From there, you can start playing matches, trading players on the transfer market, and building your dream squad.

Some of the key things you can do without spending:

  • Access the FUT transfer market to buy/sell players
  • Build and manage your FUT squad
  • Play single player Squad Battles matches vs the AI
  • Compete in online Division Rivals placement matches
  • Complete fun objectives to earn rewards
  • Open earned packs from season milestones and objectives
  • Manage your club, contracts, fitness, healing cards, etc.

This means you can play a lot of Ultimate Team just using the starter players in your club and earning rewards.

However, there are some parts of FUT that require cash…

What Requires Real Money?

While getting started is free, EA has implemented some key monetization points to encourage you to spend:

FIFA Points – This virtual currency can be purchased for real money. 100 FIFA Points costs around $1. Points can redeemed for packs, draft entries, and special store offers. This is the main cash cow of Ultimate Team.

Packs – As mentioned, packs containing random players and consumables can be bought with either coins or FIFA Points. Packs are the slot machine that feeds the addiction.

Draft Mode – Pay 15,000 coins or 300 FP (around $3) to enter a draft. Draft a temporary squad then compete for prizes. Quick way to burn through currency.

Special Promos – Timed offers in the FUT store for rare packs or consumables that cost FIFA Points. Triggers fear of missing out.

Transfer Market – Having FIFA Points allows you to quickly buy top players off the market rather than grind for coins.

Squad Building Challenges – Some high end SBCs can cost 100,000+ coins in submitted squads. Hardcore players buy Points to fund this.

So in summary – you can play and compete as a free user, but expect to grind more. Spending accelerates the pace at which you can obtain top players and icons.

But just how much could you potentially spend?

How Much Can You Realistically Spend?

EA generated a reported $1.62 billion in revenue from Ultimate Team modes in 2021. That gives you an idea of how much some people are willing to spend!

Let‘s say you want to build an elite squad full of icons and meta players. Here‘s a rough estimate:

  • Top meta gold cards like Mbappe, Neymar or Ronaldo can cost upwards of 500,000 FUT coins to buy off the transfer market.

  • A full starting XI squad of elite players could potentially cost millions of coins. That‘s equivalent to thousands of dollars in FIFA Points.

  • Purchasing hundreds of rare gold packs to pack high rated players could again amount to hundreds or thousands over a period of time.

  • Completing multiple Icon SBCs to obtain your favorite legends could set you back over a million FUT coins or $1000+ in Points.

So there is essentially no limit on how much you could spend. Hardcore FUT fans drop thousands per year in search of their ultimate squad.

But spending big doesn‘t guarantee you‘ll pack the players you want. It comes down to luck and beating the odds, like any gacha-style system.

For most players, it‘s possible to build a strong Ultimate Team by being smart with coins earned through playing. Let‘s look at some ways to minimize spending.

Tips for Spending Less in FUT

Here are some tips if you want to steer clear of paying real money:

  • Complete starter objectives – Very important to do beginner objectives for initial packs.

  • Take untradeable rewards whenever possible – Build up your club.

  • Save coins – don‘t buy packs – Use coins only for SBCs and transfer market.

  • Learn the transfer market – Mass bidding and sniping to profit.

  • Do profitable SBCs – Submit squads for challenges that reward valuable packs or players.

  • Play Squad Battles – Against the AI on beginner to quickly accumulate match coins.

  • Stay patient – Don‘t expect your team to compete quickly. Improve steadily over time.

  • Have fun! – Don‘t get sucked into a pay-to-win mindset. Enjoy the team building journey as a free player.

With some smart management of resources earned through gameplay, you can craft a capable squad within a few weeks while spending $0. It just requires more patience than dropping cash on packs.

Now let‘s look at some of the free login perks and content updates EA provides.

What‘s Free via Live Content?

To keep players engaged, EA regularly provides free login bonuses and live content events. Here are some examples:

  • Daily Gifts – Small rewards like packs, coins, or cosmetics just for logging in.

  • Season Milestones – Progression rewards as you play matches and complete SBCs during a season. Gives tradeable and untradeable packs.

  • Twitch Prime Packs – Link your Twitch account to get a monthly free pack. Usually contains a guaranteed player pick, consumables, etc.

  • Amazon Prime Gaming Pack – Also link your Amazon Prime membership to get monthly freebies.

  • Weekly Objectives – Rotating objectives that give packs and players for completion.

  • Login Rewards – Small packs, loan players, or consumables for logging in streaks.

  • Season Release Objectives – Special players, packs and cosmetics for new season launch.

  • SBC Rewards – Some basic SBCs offer tradeable packs upon completion.

So there are plenty of pack openings you can do without spending. They provide a steady influx of new players, consumables, and cosmetic items. Keep grinding away!

Okay, time for some numbers. Let‘s look at player and revenue stats.

FIFA 23 Ultimate Team Player & Revenue Data

To understand the scale of Ultimate Team, let‘s examine some stats:

  • 30 million+ – Approximate number of players that play FUT every year according to EA.

  • Over $1.6 billion – Total revenue generated by EA‘s Ultimate Team modes in 2021 across FIFA, Madden and other sports titles.

  • $1.49 billion – Total revenue from FIFA Ultimate Team alone in 2021.

YearEst. FUT Revenue
2019$1.37 billion
2020$1.62 billion
2021$1.49 billion
  • 7.6 million – Average number of daily FUT matches played.

  • 3 minutes – How frequently a FUT Pack is opened somewhere in the world.

These figures give you an idea of the sheer popularity of Ultimate Team and the revenues it generates for EA. While FUT packs are definitely predatory in nature, millions of players continue to engage with it year after year.

For EA, it‘s a highly profitable recurrent spending model that they have little incentive to change. Free-to-play friendly, but undoubtedly driven by "whales" dumping thousands into the mode.

Will FUT Remain Free in the Future?

Looking ahead, it‘s almost certain Ultimate Team will continue as a free-to-play experience. FUT makes up a significant portion of EA‘s billion dollar profits from its sports titles.

They would essentially be killing the golden goose by putting it behind a paywall. The sheer number of players would sharply drop.

However, there is some uncertainty around the FIFA brand itself. Due to licensing disputes, FIFA 23 will be the last EA FIFA title.

EA plans to launch its replacement football game "EA Sports FC" starting next year. But the core Ultimate Team mode should transition over unchanged.

No matter the name, expect EA to continue attracting millions to a free entry FUT experience while monetizing it with FIFA Points. That addictive squad building formula is too lucrative to alter.

Is Ultimate Team Truly Pay to Win?

Some players criticize FUT as an unfair "pay to win" model where you must spend big bucks to compete. There‘s definitely some truth here – a full icon squad funded by Points holds an advantage.

But I don‘t think it‘s fair to call FUT completely pay-to-win. Here are some counterpoints:

  • Great budget players are available early for reasonable coins. Cards like Fekir and Dembele are OP.

  • A skilled free-to-play player can beat an average pay-to-win squad with practice and tactics.

  • FUT Draft provides an even playing field – you draft a new squad each time from the same pool.

  • Just spending money doesn‘t guarantee you‘ll pack Ronaldo or icons due to luck.

  • Coins earned from matches helps everyone improve over time via SBCs and trading.

In summary – money certainly helps, but it doesn‘t automatically buy wins. You still need football knowledge to succeed. For example, a beginner with a god squad will lose to an expert using a average team.

A free-to-play player can remain competitive, especially early in the game cycle, but expectations need to be managed once elite squads emerge.

If you go in with an open mindset and focus on having fun building your best possible club over time, you‘ll enjoy FUT as a free player.

Final Thoughts

While FIFA Points speed up squad building, Ultimate Team remains friendly for casual free players thanks to earned packs, objectives, SBCs, rewards, and trading.

Just set realistic expectations about your club‘s progression without spending money. With smart management of resources, a capable squad is achievable within a few weeks.

Hardcore players will likely succumb to buying Points once the power curve ramps up to obtain top meta players and icons. But avoid falling into that addictive trap if possible – FUT is most enjoyable when you embrace the journey.

So jump into FIFA 23 Ultimate Team for free and let the squad building addiction begin! Just try not to rage when your Loyalty Reward preview pack contains 3 duplicate 79 rated cards…we‘ve all been there!

Have fun and see you on the virtual pitch soon! I‘ll be the one hopelessly chasing Mbappe with my La Liga sweat squad.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.