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EA Sports: Ultimate Team

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"EA Sports. It's always paid."
"We don't think it's gambling, we think it's a fun form of engagement."
EA on FIFA 20 Ultimate Team card packs

Ultimate Team is an online mode in various modern EA Sports games of the FIFA, Madden NFL, NHL, NBA Live franchises. It is known to make Electronic Arts majority of their income. As of 2022, Ultimate Team makes up to 29% of EA's annual income[1]. It's also became infamous in recent years due to its reliance on microtransactions and loot boxes, as well as creating a platform for gambling.

Why It's Not a Fun Form of Engagement

  1. Many other modes of EA Sports' games have less effort going as Ultimate Team is where most of EA's money is being made. Because their main focus is on making profit, there's no chance that they will slow down on milking this mode.
  2. The mode was primed for microtransaction and loot box abuse. Since obtaining players can only be done by opening card packs with Ultimate Team Coins or Points, most players consistently spend real money on the points premium currency on these packs, likely to prevent wasting coins if the cards they pull sell for lower than the pack cost.
  3. On a related note, the games almost never disclose the odds of obtaining certain players, with the exception for FIFA 19. Even then, the odds revealed show that the most lucrative players have extremely low odds of obtaining them (less than 1%, and yes, that was the actual odds provided by EA).
  4. One team built off each season is not carried over to the following installment, making users continue to spend a lot of their money each year to get better chances at higher rated players.
    • However, each team can still be used even after the next installment is released, provided one still has the installment the team is built for, with the team permanently disappearing after the servers for the said game have been shut down.
    • However, Madden NFL lets you carry over any rookie cards at a lower OVR (until Madden 20) that will increase until the end of February, if you did any Rookie Premiere sets in the preceding season.
  5. EA staunchly defends this game mode as if their life depends on it; any time the mode comes under fire from government officials or gambling boards, the company will retort with the most dismissive responses they can think of, repeating their mantra of providing players "fairness, fun, choice and value", all of which have been refuted countless times.
    • Even when player express grievances with the mode, or even share their stories of how they (or their children) have spent hundreds, or even thousands of [applicable currency], EA has brushed it all off as if it was nothing, stating that they "disagree" that the mode acts as a gateway of problematic gambling.
  6. Some cards in the auction house can be either rare or expensive, such as Larry Foote's 70 OVR base silver card in Madden NFL 15's Ultimate Team because this card was needed for some sets that get 99 OVR cards, or certain power up pieces, such as Bobby Wagner's MUT Heroes card in Madden NFL 19, which could be bypassed with a 92-93 power up pass.
  7. Fitness cards were essentially a coin-grab, because if you did not buy fitness cards and keep everyone at 99 fitness, they would become more prone to injury and typically would get a leg injury due to being pushed too long, forcing you to buy injury cards. Though the injury cards remain, the fitness cards were removed in FIFA 21.
  8. Contracts are a way to limit the usage of certain Ultimate Team cards, if a player runs out of contracts, the cards without contracts cannot be used until contracts are applied to said cards, encouraging players to open more packs, use contract cards or buy more cards in the Auction House.
  9. Madden NFL has a history of wrong player's images, such as Dalton Schultz and Lamar Jackson (Chicago Bears cornerback, but the photo is of the Baltimore Ravens quarterback of the same name) in 23, or using outdated photos such as Khalil Mack being pictured in a Raiders uniform in 23 despite having played for the Chicago Bears for 4 seasons until his recent trade to the Los Angeles Chargers. In other words, more effort in opening card packs than correcting player's images.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. This mode is one of the only few ways to play as retired or deceased players, such as Michael Vick, Randy Moss, Deion Sanders, Lawrence Taylor or Sean Taylor.
  2. The card designs of some programs are great, such as FIFA and NHL's Team of the Week/Year cards.
  3. This is one of the few ways players can build their dream teams, such as having Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, and Bobby Wagner on one defensive lineup, or an offense of Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas in one lineup.

Notable Ultimate Team seasons

Madden NFL

  1. Madden NFL 10 - Known for being the first Madden NFL game to feature Ultimate Team mode.
  2. Madden NFL 18 - Cards rated 80-84 are now elite instead of gold, trading one card from one account to another now makes it unauctionable. Also, an XP system called MUT Level was introduced. Fullback, slot wide reciever, nickel cornerback, 4-3 defensive tackle, 3-4 inside linebacker, and both special teams (kicker and punter) now count towards overall rating.
  3. Madden NFL 19 - Not having any Golden Tickets for the first time in recent MUT history. Also ditched the contracts system in favor of the Training currency.
  4. Madden NFL 20 - Most of the non-Ultimate Legend gold 99 cards went to average/below average players (Nickell Robey Coleman, Lamarcus Joyner, Jordan Reed) instead of the top tier superstars (eg. Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Bobby Wagner, DeAndre Hopkins) as a result of the planning on the Power Up Expansions. Early end of new content, with Rookie Premiere being released on June 12, and the final Power Up Expansions being released on July 7, 2020, which led to Snoop Dogg protesting on EA for not putting out enough content.

FIFA

  1. FIFA 09 - Known for being the first FIFA game to feature the Ultimate Team mode.

NHL

  1. NHL 11 - First EA Sports NHL game to feature Ultimate Team mode.

Trivia

  1. The popularity of this mode led to 2K Games' NBA 2K having their MyTeam Mode and following a similar monetization abuse, Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer (now eFootball) having its myClub mode and Sony's MLB The Show having the Diamond Dynasty Mode.

Videos

References

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