With all the recent fuss over microtransactions in retail games, it's easy to forget why in-game purchases exist to begin with: it's because when they work, they can work incredibly well. The FIFA series has been peddling microtransactions for years now through its Ultimate Team mode, a game mode where you're tasked with building a fantasy team of players and taking them to the top. You obtain players through "sticker packs", which can either be purchased with in-game money, or, if you want to speed up the process, real money.
FIFA is obviously a huge money maker for EA -- it's comfortably one of the world's best selling properties year in, year out -- but just how much profit does it rake in via Ultimate Team? EA CFO Blake Jorgensen has shed some light on the topic, revealing that around 35 per cent of Ultimate Team players spend real money on the mode. That's potentially a massive amount of people when you consider how many copies each FIFA title shifts.
"Today about 70-75% of all the people that buy the sports games join Ultimate Team. It's fun. It's a great way to play the game. Of those 75% of the people, about half of those people actually spend some money and the other half just play without spending. But in a free-to-play world, that's a fantastic balance of spenders and non-spenders," Jorgensen stated at a recent investor summit.
It's an interesting statistic, and some would argue a rather damning one, but you have to remember that FIFA casts a very wide net over a more casual gaming audience, which perhaps skews the figures a little. Nevertheless, it's a statistic that's quite eye-opening.