FIFA 21 has introduced a new system which lets players see what’s in their loot boxes before buying them.
As explained in the game’s official Pitch Notes blog, from now until the end of its Festival of FUTball season (which appears to end on July 16), all packs in the game’s Store will be replaced with new Preview Packs.
Choosing a Preview Pack will perform the usual pack-opening animation and show the player its contents, but without taking payment from the player.
The player will then get to choose whether to buy the pack (using either in-game coins or FIFA Points), or leave it if they don’t think the rewards are good enough.
If they decide not to buy the pack, a refresh timer will then be applied, during which time they can come back and buy the pack if they change their mind.
Once the refresh timer ends, the pack will be removed and a new pack will be made available to preview.
EA has been at the centre of the loot box debate amid increased governmental and legal scrutiny of the games industry in recent years, with the company facing several lawsuits claiming its use of pay-to-win mechanics breaches gambling laws.
Kerry Hopkins, EA’s VP of legal and government affairs, defended the company’s “quite ethical” use of loot boxes during a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee in the UK’s House of Commons in 2019.
“Well first, we don’t call them loot boxes,” she said. “So what we look at as surprise mechanics… If you go to a – I don’t know what your version of Target is – but a store that sells a lot of toys and you do a search for surprise toys, what you’ll find is that this is something people enjoy, they enjoy surprises. And so it’s something that’s been part of toys for years, whether it’s Kinder Eggs or Hatchimals or LOL Surprise.
“We do think the way that we have implemented these kind of mechanics – and FIFA of course is our big one, our FIFA Ultimate Team and our packs – is actually quite ethical and quite fun, enjoyable to people.”
In November 2020, EA launched an in-game monitoring tool which lets FIFA 21 players track and limit the amount they play and spend on FIFA Points.