A FIFA player made a GDPR request for personal info held by EA, and obtained over one hundred pages of data.
Last May, the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect across Europe. In brief, this allows EU citizens to request personal information from companies to see how it’s being used.
This prompted a FIFA player named Michael to ask Electronic Arts for everything the publisher had on his account, as summarized in a report from Eurogamer. Michael ended up with a massive data dump – two PDFs that are over 100 pages long, 10 audio files of customer support calls, FIFA 18 statistics, device information, and more.
Of these, Michael’s biggest surprise was the amount he’d spent on FIFA Points. His initial review of the data shows a grand total of $10,010. When he forwarded the information to Eurogamer, their data analysis revealed a second spending period that increased this figure to $16,154 over two years.
“Upon reflection, the figure EA stated would be correct,” Michael told Eurogamer in an initial email, before the $16,000 figure had been verified. “Special events such as Black Friday, TOTY, FUT Birthday, TOTS, Futties, etc, I would have thrown in thousands upon thousands of FIFA Points without even a second thought.”
Michael regularly uses FIFA Ultimate Team for downtime and as a hobby, playing anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours each day. It’s not clear from the data how Michael’s spending relates to other FIFA players, but he’s likely in the minority – even admitting he and his fiancee have “a healthy disposable income”. But he was still completely surprised to see such high spending patterns in a short period of time.
“I took the time to talk to my other half about this,” Michael continued. “We have a healthy disposable income but you can imagine my shock that over the past two years, I had given EA just over $10,000. If anything, the data EA has provided me has made me realise that FIFA Points are just not worth it and $10,000 will be better spent over the next two years.”
It’s worth mentioning that not all data is covered in the GDPR request. While Michael blocked out personally identifying information, EA redacted certain figures of its own. “We have also withheld data impacting the security and integrity of EA products and services, data that, if disclosed, would affect the rights and freedoms of others, including EA, and any other EA or third-party trade secrets,” EA wrote in an email to Michael.
Microtransactions are a controversial topic in today’s games industry. While they can dramatically increase game revenue, they have also been accused of effectively being a form of unregulated gambling.
The matter is far from resolved, but with the GDPR in effect you should expect more spending data to become publicly available.