Players will be able to preview all FIFA Ultimate Team Packs (UT Packs) before purchasing them, according to EA Sports.
The developer of the game revealed that a ‘preview pack’ update for FIFA 21 will be released across all regions, allowing players to test products before purchasing them with FIFA points and FUT Coins.
FUT Coins earned through gaming or FIFA points, an in-game currency acquired with real money, can be used to purchase UT Packs.
On the ‘FIFA’s Ultimate Team Store’ (FUT Store), the preview pack feature has been added as a player option, with EA reassuring users that ‘previewing a pack does not mean you’ve made a decision to buy it‘.
EA’s decision to reveal UT Pack goods comes after increased regulatory and public scrutiny of video game publishers’ game pack and loot box prizes, with EA’s FIFA at the centre of high-profile controversies.
‘Games of chance mechanisms’
The Hague High Court completed a two-year adjudication of EA’s penalty by Dutch gambling authority Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), which determined that UT Pack incentives resembled “games of chance mechanisms.”
The Hague court agreed with KSA’s assessment and ordered EA Sports and its European subsidiary to pay a €5 million penalty to the regulatory agency for violating multiple Dutch gambling laws.
EA promptly appealed the Dutch decision to the EU, claiming that KSA provided no distinction or technical transparency to categorise loot boxes as a gambling reward.
Consumer groups in France and Belgium have suggested that the UT Packs should be categorised as gambling products, and that access to the FIFA Ultimate Team Store should be restricted to adults only.
In the United Kingdom, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that it would conduct its first examination of loot box rules as part of its review of the 2005 Gambling Act, promising to amend all laws that directly affect underage audiences.
Despite mounting worries over loot boxes, DCMS Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston noted that the review needs a “clear picture on the market” as well as “evidence to link loot boxes with problem gambling harms.”
The Advertising Standards Association (ASA) has started its own research consultation on Loot Box engagements and in-game advertising, in support of the DCMS review.
The ASA identified three areas of public concern: “clarity of information at point of purchase,” game publishers’ advertising duties,” and “protections and rights of minors purchasing loot boxes.
FIFA Ultimate Team Packs are very profitable for EA, as gaming industry news outlets believed last year that the games company had made an extra $1.49 billion in game pack sales, which were classed as “content sales” in its financial statements.
EA has not said whether the preview pack upgrade would be rolled out across its whole sports game portfolio, which includes Madden Football, NBA Live, PGA Golf, and Formula One Racing.