Yesterday, Canadian outlet CBC published a massive Electronic Arts document leaked by a supposed “gaming insider” that seemingly confirms what you already thought about EA: It really wants you to buy lootboxes. The 54-page memo was originally circulated internally within the Canadian division’s FIFA teams and declares, among other things, that lockboxes – are the “cornerstone” of playerbase engagement, that EA is doing “everything [it] can to drive players there.”
As the leaker clearly knew, this looks extremely bad for EA, which has been under fire in recent years for all things lockbox, from actual legal fines over its monetization to “surprise mechanics” to the “sense of pride and accomplishment” imbroglio.
EA declined CBC’s request for an interview and told the publication the document was being “viewed without context.” The company also denied that the term “grind currency” is typical used within the company, in spite of a second leaked document that clearly calls it just that. But apparently, EA’s attempt to stifle the situation backfired when it blew up across the industry yesterday, and FIFA’s VP of brand David Jackson decided to sit for an interview with GIbiz to defend the document after all. He claims the materials referred to the “Summer Heart” campaign last summer and the push to convert players from FIFA 20 to FIFA 2021.
“It’s not about monetisation, it’s about engagement for players,” he says. Jackson tried to turn this back on the press too: “I think the narrative on it at the moment is challenging, through sensationalist reporting a little like this,” he says. GIbiz, to its credit, seems wholly unimpressed with the arguments, as money is the reason marketers care about “engagement,” and no, coverage of lockbox shenanigans is not the problem with lockboxes. In other words, EA is busy doing EA things.