EA's shining jewel in the loot box crown, FIFA Ultimate Team, saw a 22 per cent unique player increase year-on-year, despite all the loot box condemnation. Considering that money talks, it may still be a long while until the gaming industry rids itself of surprise mechanics.
No one has anything positive to say about paid loot boxes, except the companies making mounds of cash on them. That is apparently not stopping people from throwing their money at said companies, as EA's most recent financial report revealed that FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) saw a growth of 22 per cent in unique players, year-on-year.
Such an increase is not marginal. Despite all the online protesting and even some governments getting involved in loot box regulation, people are still happy to dive into the single biggest loot box driver of the modern age. It is no secret that FUT is EA's golden goose and anyone who read anything about loot boxes has probably heard of its notoriety but the numbers just keep going up apparently.
A 22 per cent increase in unique players doesn't immediately translate to all those new players spending tons of money gambling for the highest-rated players but another one of the highlights in EA's report states that "digital net bookings for the trailing twelve months was a record $3.883 billion" which is an eight per cent increase, year-over-year.
Digital net bookings refer to digital sales of goods and services. This includes FUT loot boxes, which are a significant part of the equation, so it's undeniable that people keep spending more money on "surprise mechanics" than before.
This sets an unfortunate precedent for future developments in the video gaming industry, even though many companies are already straying away from loot boxes. Players may not have EA on their Christmas card lists, but they are sure making the company's gambling mechanics more lucrative.