EA has pulled an ad promoting FIFA microtransactions from a UK magazine aimed at children, following a backlash. The company issued a mea culpa statement regarding the ad, saying it “appeared in environments it shouldn’t have.”
Eurogamer reports that ads for FIFA Ultimate Team appeared in the Smyth’s toy shop magazine. FUT is a big money-maker for EA, thanks to the sale of FIFA Points that are used to buy randomized packs. The loot box mechanic has drawn comparisons to gambling as the microtransaction practice has been under added scrutiny, so marketing it towards children was criticized especially sharply. Some fans called for a boycott.
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EA issued a statement to Eurogamer saying it is reviewing all future media placements and apologizing for the ad appearing in the magazine.
“We take very seriously the responsibilities we have when marketing EA games and experiences in channels seen by children,” the company stated. “In spite of this, we’re aware that advertising for FIFA Points has appeared in environments it shouldn’t have. We have been working diligently with Smyths to ensure this advertisement is not distributed in any remaining copies of their 2020 catalogue. We have also undertaken an immediate review of all future media placements and are working to ensure each of our marketing efforts better reflects the responsibility we take for the experience of our younger players.”
EA has been in hot water over microtransactions before. Its loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 led to a flurry of criticism, and helped spark lawmakers in several countries to look into the practice. While lawmakers have proposed various solutions, the ESRB stepped in with a change to its game labels to note when a game has microtransactions.
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