Every year, fans and haters of the FIFA series scold the developers, sarcastically joke about the gameplay and the lack of significant changes, call the Ultimate Team mode dishonest, and at the same time do not miss the opportunity to paint in colorful terms how greedy and inhuman Electronic Arts is. However, is this true? Let’s see how the FIFA developers use the psychology of the players.

In order to succeed in this game mode, the player needs fifa coins, which are not easy to get. In fact, the easiest way to get the number of coins you need is to buy them from a boosting company. It’s legal and also saves players time. Players do not have to endlessly participate in complex activities in order to earn in-game currency, and therefore they can play for fun.

Why are players so passionate about collecting player cards?

Children who grew up in the 90s and 00s remember well Panini’s collectible magazines for games, major football championships, and regional leagues. For them, it was necessary to buy sets with cards, which were then glued inside. Repetitions were molded on the covers of notebooks or textbooks or exchanged among amateurs if such were encountered.

Despite the fact that Panini’s business has long been not limited to sports and gaming products, football has been and remains the real driving force. Football fans are very emotional and reckless, moderately empathic, and in their own way devout people who incredibly appreciate the moments. Attributes of their favorite football team are perceived by fans in a completely different way than ordinary people. Limited collections are of great value and significance among the fans of the club. Sometimes, in order to meet their idols, people do crazy things, for example, they swim 1km to meet their favorite footballer.

This is what the FIFA developer took advantage of.

How FUT started

The Ultimate Team mode was created by FIFA producer Matthew Pryor. Together with the team, he added a new format to the Champions League game – UEFA Champions League 2006-2007, but only on the Xbox 360 platform.

The debut version of UT was very similar to the modern one. The user launched the mode, received a set of cards (they are also loot boxes), chose a uniform and a coach, and formed a squad taking into account positions, nationalities, preferred schemes, and chemistry indicators. After that, he participated in matches or special challenges and earned credits. Further, the gamer had a choice: to bargain with other players on the transfer market, collect their own collection in a special magazine (the level of the reward at the end of each meeting depending on its size), or buy all new sets (bronze, silver or gold).

The basis for this mode was an emotional connection. It was this connection that occurred when players exchanged player cards on the court when they were children. And it was important to capture the emotional connection, the excitement, and the irresistible desire to open a set of cards, the disappointment if you got the wrong player, or the joy if you got a superstar. And for this connection to arise, the authors used special animations and real photographs of the players.

In 2009, Electronic Arts tries not only to play on the feelings of magazine lovers and football fans but also to go online on several platforms at once, including PC and PlayStation 3. The mode appeared as an add-on for FIFA 2009. In FIFA 23, this mode exists and is the most popular. Many people play the game just because of it.

Why do some players complain about the game?

EA has not abandoned loot boxes yet, but in recent years it has been actively simplifying the ways to get them, that is, making the game more user-friendly. At least with each part, the rewards for gamers are getting better, and the bar for achieving them is lower.

If things are getting easier, then why do some players claim that the game is cheating them? Psychologists associate this behavior with cognitive bias. So people tend to look for and find supporting evidence to support pre-existing biases and ignore or otherwise interpret evidence that doesn’t support them, often in many situations already knowing the answer.

In the case of any part of FIFA, developers can talk about anything: if we didn’t like something in the last game and we considered ourselves cheated, we will continue to find relevant evidence, even if everything is in order with the game.

Retrospective bias is the tendency to reconstruct the past in accordance with current knowledge. For FIFA fans, this is always expressed in regret if the money spent on a game or card sets did not give the expected result (“I knew that the game was bad” or “I felt that I would not get anything”).

New mechanics are constantly appearing in the game, and FIFA is getting better every year. But many players blame others or circumstances for their loss. In this case, we are talking about an external locus of control. People of this type always say that “everything that happens to them is determined by external factors.” In other words, “he has better and more expensive players, I have a weak squad, bad ping, the ball didn’t move, the defenders did garbage”, etc. Such people are probably more likely to spend money on loot boxes. After all, they need the very best, otherwise, they cannot win.

And finally, let’s talk about illusory correlation. This is a cognitive bias in which there is a perception of a causal relationship between two sets of variables between which there is no such relationship. In the context of football, the distortion is best seen in the women’s leagues, which first appeared in FIFA 23. Fans do not really like such news, among them it is generally accepted that women’s football is not so technical, that no one is interested in it, and that it is boring. However, the audience attendance of stadiums for 90 thousand people, big contracts, and promoted highlights with feints and beautiful goals prove that it is very interesting for the audience. Today it is one of the fastest-growing and most attractive areas in the sport and FIFA is considered to be one of the top soccer games.

In summary

Electronic Arts have really succeeded in turning the idea of collectible sticker magazines into one of the most profitable sources of income that brings joy and pleasure to millions. And negative comments are mostly written precisely from cognitive distortions.