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Ultimate Team modes make up 29% of EA's business

Loot box-driven game modes brought in $1.62bn last year, and a larger share of publisher's revenues than ever before

Electronic Arts filed its annual report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week, revealing that the publisher's Ultimate Team modes brought in more than $1.62 billion in its last fiscal year, and now account for 29% of all the money it brings in.

The loot box-driven Ultimate Team modes appear in EA's FIFA, Madden, NHL, NBA, and UFC products.

EA's Ultimate Team revenues have grown every year since it began breaking them out from the rest of its live services businesses in fiscal 2017, when they brought in a total of $775 million.

This year's 29% is the largest share of EA revenues Ultimate Team has accounted for since EA began reporting those numbers, topping the previous high mark of 28%, set in 2019.

"Our most popular live service is the extra content available for the Ultimate Team mode associated with our sports franchises," EA said in discussing its top strategic risk, the intense competition of the games industry. "Any events or circumstances that negatively impact our ability to reliably provide content or sustain engagement for Ultimate Team, particularly FIFA Ultimate Team, would negatively impact our financial results to a disproportionate extent."

The company also noted Ultimate Team in its legal and compliance risk section, saying, "The growth and development of electronic commerce, virtual items and virtual currency has prompted calls for new laws and regulations and resulted in the application of existing laws or regulations that have limited or restricted the sale of our products and services in certain territories. For example, governmental organizations have applied existing laws and regulations to certain mechanics commonly included within our games, including the Ultimate Team mode associated with our sports franchises."

Despite the importance of Ultimate Team to the company and the threat of legislation, EA's annual report downplayed the importance of a Dutch court ruling last year that Ultimate Team violated gambling laws, upholding a €10 million ($12.2 million) fine in the process.

"We have appealed the District Court's order, and the [Netherlands Gambling Authority]'s decision is suspended through the appeals process," EA said. "We do not believe that the operational or financial consequences from these proceedings will have a material adverse effect on our Consolidated Financial Statements. We do not believe that our products and services violate applicable gambling laws."

Ultimate Team has been at the heart of a number of lawsuits from those who see them as a form of gambling, while loot boxes more generally have come under legislative scrutiny in recent years.

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