Concerns Over Gambling Elements in EA Sports FC 24
After three decades of the iconic ‘FIFA’ video game series, this year introduces a new name: EA Sports FC 24. While the rebranding is generating buzz ahead of its release, the gaming community continues to grapple with the prevalence of gambling mechanisms within the game.
This issue is particularly pertinent as research suggests that young people are increasingly concerned about gambling-related elements in console games.
Changes in Branding, Persistence of Gambling Features
The rebranding of EA Sports’ flagship title is primarily due to licensing reasons. However, avid ‘FIFA’ players will still encounter familiar gambling-style elements, such as the process of acquiring bonus ‘player packs’ to enhance their chances of success in the Ultimate Team mode.
While it’s noteworthy that this year’s edition introduces a gender balance with both iconic male and female players, what often goes unmentioned is the cost associated with acquiring star players to bolster one’s team. Landing renowned players like Harry Kane or Alex Morgan typically requires real money spending, making it essential for players to exercise caution when linking their credit cards to their consoles.
Research on Young Gamers
During the 2022/23 academic year in the UK, research was conducted to gauge young people’s views on gaming and in-game purchases. A total of 3,248 students aged 14 to 19 participated. The findings are illuminating, with 52% expressing concerns about spending money on in-game purchases, and 19% remaining uncertain about its potential harm.
The research also revealed a concerning correlation between spending money on loot boxes and other in-game purchases. While 41% reported buying loot boxes, 61% purchased other in-game items or products with real money. Most notably, 85% of those who bought loot boxes also spent money on other in-game purchases, underscoring the likelihood of one activity triggering spending in the other, despite recognizing the potential harm.
Regarding spending amounts, 5% admitted to spending at least £51 a month on loot boxes, with 3% doing the same for other in-game items. Notably, higher amounts were allocated to loot boxes, raising concerns about their potential risks. Qualitative comments from the survey revealed both negative and positive consequences associated with spending money on in-game items.
Epic’s Cautionary Message
Dave Sproson, Head of Safer Gambling at Epic Risk Management, cautioned players, especially parents allowing unsupervised gaming, about the presence of ‘loot boxes’ in games like EA Sports FC 24. While not classified as gambling in the UK, there are growing efforts to regulate their accessibility to children. Sproson emphasized the similarities between loot boxes and other forms of gambling, where the outcome isn’t guaranteed to match the value of the investment.
Existing academic research supports Sproson’s message, revealing that spending money in games can lead to negative consequences. Protecting vulnerable groups, particularly children and young people, from the financial risks associated with gaming activities remains a priority.
In summary, the new release of EA Sports FC 24 brings a fresh name but retains familiar gambling elements. Research highlights growing concerns among young gamers regarding in-game purchases and loot boxes, reinforcing the need for awareness and protective measures within the gaming industry.