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FIFA 21 loot boxes now tell you what’s inside them – but there is a catch

EA has made a major change to how loot boxes work in FIFA, with the introduction of the new Ultimate Team preview packs.

As several governments around the world threaten to impose their own restrictions, EA has made the sensible decision to try and pre-empt legislation against loot boxes by making major changes to how they work in FIFA.

This has led to the introduction of the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) preview packs, which let you see exactly what’s inside before you buy them.

The ordinary, randomised, loot boxes will still be available as in-game rewards, but they’ll also become available again from the in-game store once the current Festival of FUTball is over.

Preview packs still aren’t like regular DLC, where you just buy what you want, in that there’ll often be only one thing you actually want in a pack and so you have to make the decision of whether to buy the whole thing to get what you’re after.

The only limit imposed by EA is that once you preview a pack a timer will start – 20 hours and 35 minutes is the example given – and you can’t preview another pack until it’s run out.

There are a few additional complications though, namely time limited packs disappearing before the refresh time is up and limited quantity packs running out before you make your decision of whether to buy or not.

In both cases there’ll be a timer or counter indicating how long you’ve got to make your decision, so EA can claim to still be keeping things above board.

With some cosmetic items already being sold directly as microtransactions, EA seems to be trying out new ways of selling content ahead of FIFA 22, which if it follows the usual schedule will be out in early October.

Whether the new game will enshrine preview packs as the default way to buy loot boxes, or if they’ll be quietly discontinued, will be something other publishers will take serious note of.

Other sports games, in particular the NBA 2K series, are also accused of encouraging gambling, which is seen by many as especially worrying given that they typically have the lowest possible age rating.

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