Two years after EA described FIFA’s loot boxes as “surprise mechanics”, the publisher might be finally backing down under enormous international pressure. EA has announced today that you can see what’s inside a Festival of FUTball Ultimate Team Pack before you buy it. Way to ruin the “surprise”!
With multiple governments demanding changes, an ever-increasing number of lawsuits labelling the pack purchasing as gambling, and gambling charities putting out research to demonstrate the links, it was surely only a matter of time before EA had to give in. Although it remains an astonishing display of stubbornness to have taken this long, not least after it was leaked in April just how deliberate it all seemed to be.
As Eurogamer now reports, EA today added the ability to see inside the virtual foil wrapper, with what they’re calling Ultimate Team Preview Packs. This then allows you to decide whether they’re worth your virtual currency.
This coincides with FIFA 21's “Festival of FUTball”, which itself coincides with, I’m told, some manner of European foot-to-ball competition. This has its own Preview Packs, with the usual types unavailable for the time being, but they’ll be back soon. The details of all this can be found on EA’s FIFA 21 site.
To stop you just previewing and previewing and previewing until you get the cards you want, once you’ve peeked inside, the pack and others of its type are put on a refresh timer. During that time (and the example given on EA’s explanation is 17 hours, 21 minutes), you can’t preview any more, but you can still buy the pack you previously scanned. After that, it erupts into virtual flames, and you can start over. There are exceptions, but there’s only so many times I can read the word “FUT” before I have to stop paying attention.
It’s also worth noting that EA adds the disclaimer that, “We are constantly looking to improve the FIFA experience for everyone, so this article may become outdated as we make adjustments to keep our game fun for everyone.” Whatever that might mean.
Either way, it looks like the publisher has finally relented, albeit so far only in the form of its “Festival of FUTball”. They’re ambiguous about whether the previewing will continue with the return of the regular packs, and we’ve reached out to EA to find out more.