Some of the biggest streamers in the Madden community have announced they’re going on “pack strike,” creating a hashtag and refusing to spend any money on Madden 23’s Ultimate Team mode until publisher Electronic Arts makes some changes.
What’s Ultimate Team?
Both Madden and FIFA have wildly-popular multiplayer game modes called Ultimate Team, which let users create their own teams of all-time greats. The catch is that you have to obtain your players via cards, and those cards are sold blind in sealed virtual packs, and those packs are paid for with real money.
As Polygon reports, the streamers—who for sports games like this are a huge part of the online community—have created the hashtag #packstrike, and are urging all players, not just their content-creating peers, to refuse to spend a cent on Ultimate Team until EA addresses their concerns.
Zirksee, speaking for both himself and “other creators in the community,” shared the group’s demands earlier today. He says they’re asking for, among other things, “better rerolls” and “better pack odds overall” when opening the more expensive player packs, as well as the restoration of rewards that used to offered for games (including some that were initially offered during the first week of Madden 23’s release) that have since been removed:
Like I’ve said only this week, there is no number of tweets, reviews or comments that can make publishers walk back the extent to which they’ve monetised major sports game series in 2022. The only thing that moves the needle with these companies is money, and so the only way for disgruntled players to get their point across is to withhold that money.
So seeing content creators mobilise as a means of protest is heartening! Though it’s also wild to consider that a decade of turning sports games into shakedowns has normalised things to the extent that people are “striking” not to have the modes thrown out, or made entirely free considering you have already spent $60 on the game. They instead want some of the game’s most exploitative systems made a little less exploitative.
It’s like asking your prison warden for fluffier pillows. It remains to be seen of course how successful this “strike” will be, but if it does have some kind of impact with EA Sports, I’d hope this at least sets a precedent for sports game fans: If they’re really as sick of this constant nickel-and-diming as much as they say they are, to start taking some more drastic action.