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If I say "loot boxes", there might be one main gaming brand that comes to mind for you. Although there are plenty of titles that use loot boxes as an aesthetics-only addition to games, there are also loot boxes that will impact the game you're playing in a substantial way - and those games include EA's massive FIFA 21. The sports game allows players to pay for the chance to win famous footballers that directly improve gameplay in its Ultimate Team more and, historically, many users have been annoyed at the publisher for this alleged 'pay-to-win' mechanic.
The best FIFA players in Ultimate Team come on Prime Icon Moment cards, which commemorate some of the best performances by the best players. With this in mind, one FIFA fan decided to work out how music money and/or time it would take to collect a full set of these cards to have on your team. After all, EA has said that you could feasibly "acquire all items in the game without ever spending money, with purchases being entirely optional" when talking to The Mirror. Time, then, to test that theory.
A viral thread by content creator ScudzTV revealed some calculations to see just how long it would take to create a 100 million coin team, featuring Prime Icon Moments like Pele, Ronaldo, Ferdinand, Maldini, and more. The creator states that if you averaged 1,500 coins a game including rewards, it would take you 66,666 games to earn the amount for this team. If each match takes 20 mins, that's 22,000 hours of gameplay - which translates to 916 days of games. Two and a half years of constant gaming is a little steep, right?
Well, Scudz went on to say that if you were trading your way there, it would take you about 1,650 hours if you averaged 10,000 coins of profit per trade. That's about 69 days of constant trading. And how about money? Scudz reckons that to get the team of his dreams, he'd need to spend £79,990 on FIFA points which, unsurprisingly, is some way beyond the average player's price range.
This thread of stats made its rounds last week as people discussed how shocking it was that EA could say that the content in the game is available for free, when it does seem to promote spending. Now, the developer has responded to the viral thread with a second statement to The Mirror challenging that the averages Scudz use could be lower than a skilled player.
"We're aware there has been recent speculation on what it takes to have a great FIFA Ultimate Team in EA SPORTS FIFA," reads their statement. "While we respect the effort and creativity to map out possible paths to greatness, we challenge the premise of these theories. There are a lot of assumptions being made in the calculations."
It continues: "For example, you can't accurately calculate how many coins you would earn from trading as that would depend on your skill as a trader. There are also other aspects of the game that contribute to building your club such as SBCs, Objectives and Draft, which have to be accounted for as well. As importantly, FIFA is a game of skill. The skill of the player is the greatest factor in the outcome of matches or challenges in FIFA - a strong player can be successful whether their team is bronze, silver, gold or a mixture of all three. You don't need the highest-rated players in the game in order to win."
The devs go on to say that, in real life, you would never see the best 11 players in the world on one team anyway, so it shouldn't be expected that you'd be able to cultivate a team out of Prime Icons. It's not "intended or expected" that players would do that.
Well, I would comment that when people are given the option to collect something, they often want to, at least. You don't need all the Pokémon cards in the world, but there is a certain drive to catch 'em all; and when in digital gaming there isn't a limit on the number of items that could exist, it's going to feel a little different from buying players for a football club in the real world.
But in any case, EA will continue to have to investigate the situation that started the whole thing off - allegations that an employee has been selling highly coveted Prime cards to players who can pay the price.
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