EA appears to be in hot water once again over Ultimate Team mechanics. EA is no stranger to lawsuits when it comes to Ultimate Team mechanics. The loot box issue has been rolling through courts in Europe and around the world. Now another suit is hitting the gaming giant, with accusations of causing financial harm through making the game hard... Let's see what is actually going on.
The suit alleges that EA is harming players through making their games progressively more difficult despite the quality a user may gain from experience or through having an elite Ultimate Team squad. The company's Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (DDA) tech can reduce the ability of users players, and boost that of the AI opponent, seemingly at will. This makes it tricky to play at a consistent standard and encourages users to keep buying packs in the search for improvements.
The harm here, so the plaintiffs believe, is that EA encourages the spending of real money on packs to improve your chances of winning, and then undercuts the player. DDA, along with Difficulty Adjuting Mechanisms (DAMs) affect how a user's team performs by making virtual players underperform.
Ever had an AI receiver just flat-out drop an open pass, or a defender completely fail to make an easy cut-off run? That's DDA & DAMs, so the suit alleges.
"EA's undisclosed use of Difficulty Adjusting Mechanisms deprives gamers who purchase Player Packs of the benefit of their bargains because EA's Difficulty Adjusting Mechanisms, rather than only the stated ranking of the gamers' Ultimate Team players and the gamers' relative skill, dictates, or at least highly influences the outcome of the match," the lawsuit reads in an excerpt from GamesIndustry.
Isn't dynamic difficulty good though?
A static AI that has some consistent exploits doesn't make for a fun game, neither does an AI that is just too hard to beat. The stated intention of these features is to keep the player engaged and not give them a game that is boring or frustrating. That certainly seems like a feature gamers would want in their sports titles. However, the consequences appear to be driving players to seek an ever smaller improvement in their squad as what should be quality players underperform and need replacing.
EA is currently facing two other lawsuits connected to Ultimate Team, one in the United States alleging the mode breaks California state gambling laws, and one in Canada accusing EA of running "an unlicensed, illegal gaming system through their loot boxes."
When asked for comment on the allegations, EA provided the following statement: "We believe the claims are baseless and misrepresent our games, and we will defend."