EA made over a billion dollars from Ultimate Team in its last financial year, showing just how truly lucrative the feature is. However, even though multiple games support the mode, only one made a significant contribution to that total. And, unsurprisingly, that was FIFA.
Despite unit sales being an obvious source of income for video game publishers, premium extras have grown in popularity over the past decade. And none more-so than those that combine the hobby of card collecting with the art of progression. I’m obviously talking about Ultimate Team, which can be found in EA’s staple releases (FIFA, Madden and NHL). But only one game made a significant contribution to their earnings over this last financial year.
Was it FIFA, by any chance? Why yes it was.
You see, the company earned $1.62 billion from Ultimate Team in 2020/2021 – which is already a steep rise from only $7 million in 2015. But the company credits FIFA with “a substantial portion” of that. This just goes to show not only how popular the feature is, despite costing extra on top of the base game to start with, but also just how much of a market share the game has.
It’s no wonder Pro Evolution Soccer can’t win a season…
Even more astonishingly, the Ultimate Team was responsible for 29% of EA’s total net income over the same period ($5.6 billion, just in case you were wondering) – a mind-numbing figure, I’m sure you’ll agree. So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to hear that the feature is lambasted by some as being a pay-to-win scheme, which exploits players by limiting progression unless their monies are exchanged. However, as we’ve seen here, that opinion hasn’t cost it in popularity or use.
And, so, the cycle continues.
But let’s not pretend as though this is only costing us in money – the devotion of developers to Ultimate Team has also significantly impacted what other game features are offered and their overall quality. We’re seeing, year on year, games getting stripped back further, especially offline, and it almost feels as though it’s so you are encouraged over to the premium side of gaming. Because, let’s face it, that’s where most of the good stuff is nowadays.
Source: Daniel Ahmad Twitter