A FIFA pro has announced he won’t buy any FIFA Points during the FIFA 21 season.
Tim “Tim Latka” Schwartmann, who currently plays for German club FC Schalke 04’s esports team, said he had decided to compete on the professional FIFA circuit this season without spending a penny on FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT).
FUT is FIFA’s most popular game mode and publisher EA’s money spinner, pulling in billions in revenue through the sale of FIFA Points. FIFA Points are used to buy FUT packs, which contain a random assortment of virtual players. It’s this mechanic that makes FUT a play-to-win competitive online experience – and has sparked a comparison to gambling.
FIFA pros use FUT to qualify for professional tournaments, and so must head online to play matches with their Ultimate Team. Because of this, some pros spend thousands of pounds on FUT as soon as it launches in a bid to obtain the best players as quickly as possible.
As part of a 2019 Eurogamer investigation into the pay-to-win nature of FIFA Ultimate Team, Swedish pro FIFA player Simon “Zimme” Nystedt said: “FIFA has never been as pay-to-win as it is now. The then Fnatic-backed pro said he’d spent over £3500 on FIFA 19 in order to get the players he felt he needed to compete.
“That’s way way too much,” he said at the time. “It shouldn’t be like this. You should never have an advantage just for paying.
“I know for sure there are pros who haven’t spent that much and they’re still qualifying for events, but it’s way way harder. I want to make it as easy as possible.”
Fast forward to September 2020, and just a few days before FIFA 21 comes out we have one of the most high-profile FIFA pros in Europe declare they won’t spend a penny on FUT this year for ethical reasons.
“I have a certain responsibility and I haven’t made a video for a long time where I opened packs with FIFA Points,” Schwartmann said in a video published to his YouTube channel, which has over 200,000 subscribers.
“That’s why I want to stick to this way and play without FIFA Points.”
Schwartmann’s club, Schalke fully supports their employee, and issued a tweet video to go alongside the announcement. Normally a club would give 2000 Euros to a FIFA Pro to spend on packs ahead of the release of a new FIFA. Instead, Schwartmann and Schalke have donated the money to the Robert Enke Foundation, which raises awareness of mental health issues in esports.
“Our FIFA athlete @timlatka announced that he won’t buy any FIFA Points this year as he doesn’t agree that your wallet should define your gaming skills,” Schalke said.
“We support his decision and decided to donate the amount of money we would have given to him to the Robert Enke Foundation.”
Our FIFA athlete @timlatka announced that he won’t buy any FIFA Points this year as he doesn’t agree that your wallet shouldn’t define your gaming skills.
We support his decision and decided to donate the amount of money we would have given to him to the Robert Enke Foundation. pic.twitter.com/O0AVZ3Kgah
— Schalke 04 Esports (@S04Esports) September 26, 2020
While Schwartmann’s decision won’t have any material impact on EA’s financial fortunes, it’s yet another bad headline for EA Sports. While FUT now discloses pack odds, it remains a pay-to-win experience at its core, and governments across the world are looking into whether it should be considered gambling. It’ll be interesting to see whether any of Schwartmann’s colleagues on the FIFA pro circuit follow his lead.