Every Tuesday, I have a short shift at my day job and get to leave work by 1:00 PM. With the lunch rush just ending, I have my pick of restaurants to go to, but I always end up at Zaxby’s. It’s one of my favorite places to get a good salad and some chicken fingers. It’s the only day I eat out for lunch, so it’s a bit of treat that I look forward to every week. This week, I did not go to Zaxby’s. I did not get that scrumptious Blue Zalad with blackened chicken. Nor did I get my succulent five chicken tenders. And I certainly didn’t get to dip them in tasty Zaxby sauce. Instead, I spent that $20 on FIFA Points for FIFA 20 Ultimate Team, and didn’t regret it one bit.
And that is far from the only $20 I’ve spent on FIFA 20. In fact, it would be a bit embarrassing to tell you exactly how much I’ve spent on EA’s virtual slot machine. So, should you also run out and spend all your hard-earned money on FIFA space bucks? Probably not.
Here’s the deal: it’s almost never a good look (in my book) to put microtransactions in a $60 game. Free-to-play games are a little less gross, but even still, it’s hard to back them given their inherent predatory nature. We’ve only seen over the years the issues that players (especially parents and their kids) have run into around microtransactions. Seeing this in effect in FIFA 20 makes it hard for me to not want to stamp them out of gaming completely.
Plus, I’m exactly the type of person that these addicting mechanics are usually targeted towards. When I get into something, I’m basically all in. I have a very addictive personality. Last year, I got so into playing the FIFA transfer market that I worked the basic concepts into an economic class that I substitute taught for a teacher friend. The second that I spent real money on FIFA Points, I knew it could become a problem if I didn’t watch myself.
So, I’m a FIFA player who knows how to play the market to some degree. I can pretty easily trade my way into a decent enough squad for Ultimate Team. Last season, my transfer profit wasn’t anything crazy, but it also wasn’t anything to sneeze at. Why in the world would I spend real money on FIFA Points when I probably don’t need to?
If I’m being honest, the answer is pretty simple. I just wanted to see how the other side lives for once. I know you don’t need to spend FIFA Points to get a squad together. However, I’ve always been intrigued by the super teams that YouTubers put together just because they spent a ton of money in the first few days. I don’t have the budget to replicate it, but what if I tried to do it on a smaller scale?
Well, you know the old saying, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Except, in this case, it’s more like, “if you don’t feel like beating ’em, join ’em.” The grind to get to those higher-rated teams without FIFA Points isn’t ridiculous, but it is a grind. You have to spend a lot of time flipping players and making smart investments. This takes way longer than ripping open 200+ packs and almost immediately end up on a throne of coins.
So, when I found out I’d be reviewing FIFA 20 for DualShockers this year, I started to save up some blood money to give EA at launch. This is not something I would usually condone. You can absolutely get yourself a star-studded squad through hard work and smart investments. You do not need to spend FIFA Points. There is so much information out there that will help you get where you want to go. But what if you do spend FIFA Points? Is it, in any way, worth it?
For me, the answer is a resounding “maybe.” I knew going in that all this was going to be was a way to fast-track me to where I would probably be in late October. Unless I had ridiculous luck in opening my packs, it wasn’t likely that I’d have a team full of Icons. And that’s exactly what happened.
When FIFA 20 launched, I already had a team stacked with meta Premier League players. There were no Icons in my side. Top-tier players like Mbappe, Neymar, and Ronaldo were within reach, but not really worth the investment. I had yet to (and still haven’t) get an Icon in the club, though I could nab a lower-tier Legend if I wanted to. Instead, I had a solid Weekend League roster, tons of SBC fodder, and plenty of coins to make investments with.
This is essentially where I would have been after a few weeks with FIFA 20 anyways without microtransactions. However, the big difference is that I had spent almost zero time grinding away on the transfer market to build that nest egg. Effectively, I had traded my money to get back all that time I would have spent. In some ways, that felt like a fair trade.
Listen, like everyone else, I’m getting old. I have a full-time job, a wife and dog to spend time with, and articles to write. If I can spend $50 a month and stay somewhat competitive in FIFA, that almost feels worth it in a world where I don’t have hours to spend trading players. Is it a great world? Not really, but it’s one that’s increasingly appealing as I get closer and closer to the grave.
So then, what exactly is the point of this editorial? It’s a bit of an introspective look at how I value time, and a reminder that microtransactions aren’t always a totally bad thing. They need to be regulated and more protections should be in place for younger gamers. However, giving an old fart like me a way to stay competitive when I cannot spend hours grinding coins is not necessarily a bad thing.
Does that mean I’m going tell everyone and their mother to go out, buy FIFA Points, and rip open mountains of packs? No, you don’t need to. Since spending money on the game, I’ve been hitting the web app harder than ever in my downtime, and my transfer profit has skyrocketed. Granted, I had that nest egg to work with; however, you can get to the same place if you work at it.
However, I will say that spending an evening just ripping open packs was incredibly fun. And it’s supposed to be. The dopamine dump when you get a big-time player is very well-designed by the penny-pinchers at EA. However, the rewarding packs don’t really come that often. You’re much more likely to spend 1,000 FIFA Points (ten real-world dollars) and get absolutely nothing than you are to pick up useable players.
This exact thing is what makes it relatively easy for me to walk away from spending points. Sure, the initial influx of easy income was a nice way to get a quick start on the game. However, now that I have a good base of coins and players, it’s hard to see the point in spending money on packs. Those moments of euphoria are too few and far between to make up for all the subpar packs you’ll get.
In short, the only reason I can see to spend money on FIFA Points is to quickly advance in the early stages of the game. Unless you are dropping thousands of dollars on packs, the chances of you fielding a god-tier team are pretty low. Just like in real life, hard work will pay off.
Of course, the big elephant in the room is the impact that microtransactions have on kids and gamers who struggle with gambling addiction. There are so many people writing great stuff on this topic, so I’ll just point you to those. It’s a real problem and something that needs to be addressed. I may have had a laugh seeing what the other side of the FIFA 20 fence is like, but it’s definitely not something that everyone should go out and do.
Don’t bother spending FIFA Points. YouTubers make it look cool, and it can be a little fun, but you don’t need them. Invest smartly, and you’ll have that Ronaldinho in your squad in no time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the market on Alexandre Lacazette has dropped off, and I have some coins to make.
FIFA 20 is currently available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.