The use of loot boxes and pay-to-win schemes in video games is an incredibly hotly debated topic right now. Many people see it as a form of gambling, which naturally raises an issue since millions of children around the world are playing these games. There is currently legislation being proposed in the US that would ban the sale of loot boxes to children.
While on the surface that might seem fair to some, the blanket definitions being used in the bill pose a major threat to some developers. Most notably, developers with major sports franchises under their banner. Most sports games include modes that require players to spend money in order to improve their teams, or at least to improve them at a much faster rate than earning rewards the good old fashioned way.
FIFA could well be the game that is most at risk of being dealt a hefty blow by the new bill, reports Polygon. Its Ultimate Team mode involves gamers buying packs and hoping to unearth a rare gem in them, sort of like when we would buy Pokémon cards years ago. FIFA developer EA has already raised concerns about the bill and have been told that Ultimate Team will indeed be covered by it.
"[EA has] certainly expressed their, shall we say, concern over this legislation. But I think that’s probably a good indication that we’re getting somewhere," the senator proposing the bill told Kotaku. EA definitely has cause for concern. In 2017, it raked in $800 million of revenue via Ultimate Team. That's more than 36% of the revenue it made from all of its live services that year.
Other sports games are at risk of being dealt a heavy blow by the bill too. NBA 2K's MyCareer mode also relies heavily on players paying to win. While there aren't exact figures available, Take-Two recently agreed to a $1.1 billion, seven-year deal with the NBA. It is probably safe to assume that the developers were willing to pay so much on the back of the assumption that it would be making a lot of that money back via microtransactions.