EA sports is being sued over alleged FIFA 21 difficulty spikes
EA Sports is facing a lawsuit for allegedly increasing the difficulty of FIFA 21’s Ultimate Team (FUT) mode in a deliberate effort to increase revenue from loot boxes. The suit was filed in a California court by Jason Zajnoc, Danyael Williams, and Pranko Lozano.
In FIFA 21’s FUT mode, players build their own teams by choosing a roster of players from each FIFA league. If successful, players can win coins that can be used to purchase loot boxes called Ultimate Team packs, which contain a random assortment of players. Alternatively, players can shell out real-world currency to purchase the packs. The suit alleges that EA uses artificial intelligence technology to dynamically increase the difficulty in FIFA’s FUT mode in an attempt to trick players into spending money on the Ultimate Team packs.
According to the suit, EA uses artificial intelligence technologies called Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment and Adaptive Difficulty to adjust the game’s difficulty in real-time. This can influence the outcome of a game by causing players to have bad passes or poor shots. The technology is supposed to be used to keep players engaged by preventing them from becoming bored by a match that is too easy or discouraged from a match that is too difficult, but the suit alleges that EA instead uses the technology to increase game difficulty to dupe players into spending money on loot boxes. This practice is known as “scripting” by FIFA gamers.
The plaintiffs’ main charge is that EA fails to disclose information about its “scripting” practices to players. They claim that the company intentionally chooses not to share the information in an effort to sell more loot boxes. The suit also claims that this is a violation of California consumer protection laws and that EA has engaged in false advertising through its scripting practices. The case also encompasses EA’s Madden and NHL games, which both feature similar Ultimate Team modes. Earlier in 2020, EA hit a new record for FIFA microtransactions, making $1.1 billion off of micro-transactions in the year’s first quarter.
This is not the first time that lawsuits were filed against EA for microstransactions. In August, one player filed a suit alleging that he was “induced” to spend more than $600 on loot boxes in FIFA and Madden games since 2011. Loot boxes are extremely unpopular in the gaming community and have been outlawed in countries such as Belgium for being considered too close to gambling. In September, EA pulled an ad for FIFA microtransactions from a children’s magazine because of outrage from fans.
FIFA 21 is available on PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One. Versions for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S will release December 4.