Electronic Arts (EA) is still forcing loot boxes and microtransactions onto players with their latest sports game, UFC 3. The video game publisher sent shockwaves throughout the gaming and retail industries last month when it was revealed that it would take more than 40 hours of gameplay to unlock Darth Vader in DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront II, and that was only the icing on what was deemed to be an egregious platform built almost entirely upon predatory microtransactions and mandatory loot box openings.
The sheer backlash that EA received for their baffling progression system, as well as their elusory response to the situation that garnered them the most downvoted post in Reddit history, forced the publisher to change their ways, at least temporarily. EA announced they would immediately suspend the microtransactions system in Battlefront II mere days before the game’s scheduled launch date, but they did so with the fine print allowing them to bring it back at some point in the future. At the time, people hoped EA learned their lesson, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, for UFC 3, another game published by EA, has been discovered to also house a seemingly pay-to-win system.
UFC 3 doesn’t hit consoles until late-winter 2018, but EA Sports hosted an open beta last weekend, and players discovered that the game is, essentially, pay-to-win. Players require time to hone their skills in sports games, and that’s in part what makes them fun, but EA Sports doesn’t want to dissuade series newcomers with the inability to win online matches, so they’ve implemented a system in which players can acquire purchasable fighter upgrades via loot boxes that give players an edge – or, as EA representatives pointed out to IGN, a level playing field.
The beta didn’t allow players to purchase these upgrades, though, so it’s unclear exactly how it all will work down the line when the game actually hits store shelves. However, in response to the new wave of backlash that, again, surrounds the microtransactions and loot box problem plaguing the industry, EA made sure to point out that those upgrades can only be obtained in the game’s Ultimate Team mode, not in any other game mode. While that may be true, the point of the matter is that players can still purchase these upgrades – again, via loot boxes – using either in-game currency or real money, and therein lies the problem.
Considering that UFC 3 doesn’t release until February 2018, there is still plenty of time for the publisher (and the developer) to make the necessary changes and potentially avoid another Battlefront II-level consumer boycott. But, as it stands, it seems EA still plans on forcing microtransactions and loot boxes into every game they can, hoping players are none the wiser.