FIFA, the officially licensed soccer game series from Electronic Arts, is well-known for its heavy and often controversial microtransactions. The FIFA Ultimate Team game mode's FIFA packs remain at the heart of the ongoing conversation about loot boxes and gambling, yet are undeniably highly lucrative for EA. Now it appears that EA is considering expanding microtransactions, at least in FIFA 21. EA has recently added premium cosmetic purchases for FIFA 21's Ultimate Team to FIFA 21.
A May 1 update to FIFA 21 added a surprise to the game that few expected. Within the FIFA 21 Ultimate Team store is a new tab labeled Stadium. From the Stadium tab, players are able to make individual digital item purchases directly with either FIFA 21 FUT coins or FIFA points. For the first time, EA is offering players an option to buy in-game cosmetics without forcing players to purchase randomized packs that may or may not give players what they want.
Available at the moment are four different items. These items are a tifo, a stadium theme, a home kit, and an away kit. There's also an option to purchase all four items in a single, discounted bundle. It's all very innocuous and regular, something that those familiar with live service games would expect to see in a digital content store. At first glance, it seems like a step in the right direction considering the lack of options otherwise available to players and general frustrations toward FIFA.
The pricing, in terms of real money, also isn't necessarily extreme. If 100 FIFA points is roughly equivalent to a dollar, then none of the purchases individually costs more than $3. The bundle for everything is also 700 points, so no more than $7. Considering these are small microtransactions, it does seem like a lot, but for FIFA Ultimate Team players who may very much want certain microtransactions, it's not outrageous.
What is outrageous, however, is the pricing for in-game currency. The bundle costs 60,000 FUT coins, which is significantly more than even a prime gold FIFA pack. To be fair, it also costs more than the same pack in real money. But the intent really does seem to be pushing players to spend money rather than earn and use in-game currency. Still, an option to buy content is better than none, all things considered.
FIFA 21 players will have to decide for themselves whether this is a good addition from Electronic Arts. Fans have been asking for changes to FIFA's monetization for a very long time, given the controversy surrounding loot box FIFA packs. But expensive, low-value premium items may not be what they had in mind. If there's a time for feedback, however, it's now, as changes could potentially still be made ahead of FIFA 22's launch.
Back in the days before the Ultimate Team mode took the soccer games niche by storm, career mode was the go-to way of playing FIFA. Nowadays, it may have been pushed aside by EA due to the sheer popularity of FUT (and the revenue it brings in on a daily basis). However, taking over a team and leading them to glory is still a lot of fun in FIFA 21.