FIFA 19 will include pack odds disclosures, EA has confirmed to Eurogamer.
Speaking to our reporter Robert Purchese at the Gamelab conference in Spain, EA Sports vice president and COO Daryl Holt said FIFA Ultimate Team Packs will show odds from FIFA 19 on.
Here's what Holt told us:
"For Ultimate Team, when you buy a pack you know what you are getting. You are getting a certain number of assets that are guaranteed - and we're going to start to do pack odds disclosures that'll show you the odds of what you might get.
"That'll be in our product year 19 titles. So, at least that aspect of understanding what the chances are of getting X, Y and Z card."
However, Holt did not go into detail on exactly what pack contents FIFA 19 will disclose the odds of - and when we followed up with EA, the company declined to offer any additional information.
As it stands in FIFA 18, Ultimate Team packs give you a vague idea of what you'll get inside them. For example, FIFA 18 tells players a Gold Pack includes a mix of 12 items, including players and consumables, at least 10 Gold and one Rare.
I've opened enough of these things to know that this vague description isn't the best indication of what to expect from a FUT pack. Most of the time, a Gold Pack gets you a few players, leaving you with nine consumables you're not particularly interested in.
Just as a refresh, I opened two Gold Packs today, and, yes, each gave me three players and various consumables.
So, perhaps FIFA's new pack odds disclosure will tell me the odds of getting player cards in a pack, or the odds of getting players of a certain rating. I think it's unlikely FUT will all of a sudden tell me the odds of packing specific players, such as Ronaldo or Messi.
FIFA players have for years called on EA to provide pack odds disclosures. Some have put a lot of time and effort into trying to work out pack odds themselves, for example using active transfer numbers to estimate the chance of packing certain players. This is the first time EA has said it'll add something along these lines to the game.
The introduction of FUT pack odds comes at a time of increased scrutiny of loot boxes. EA was forced to change the way Star Wars Battlefront 2 works after a backlash against the way its loot boxes gave players a competitive advantage. EA has since promised upcoming games Battlefield 5 and Anthem will not include loot boxes, leaving many FIFA players - myself included - to wonder: what about FIFA?
Holt defended the way FIFA Ultimate Team packs work, insisting the situation with Battlefront 2 and FIFA are different.
"With Star Wars Battlefront 2 - a lot of people reacted negatively to the loot box construct in it - that's the game," Holt said.
"We give you a FIFA game that is very much a fully deep, fully rich experience. FIFA Ultimate Team is a separate mode you engage with, and you can choose or not choose to play, or you can choose or not choose to purchase. And, to a certain extent, your skills are equally or more so important. You may have a higher-rated team than me in FIFA Ultimate Team and I can still beat you.
"Choice is key. We want to make sure people can choose how they want to engage with the game, what they want to pay and spend on, and that fairness is wrapped around that choice such that there's not a detriment to that choice.
"When you're talking about Ultimate Team, there is a definite amount of choice involved we want people to feel good about, and then get the value they feel out of the time and money they're spending with it, and we think that works differently to the loot box controversies that were surrounding Battlefront."
Loot boxes have also drawn the inquisitive gaze of government. While the UK does not consider loot boxes to be gambling, Belgium and The Netherlands do.
Holt, echoing a statement previously issued by EA on the subject, insisted FUT packs are not gambling because you can't cash out your virtual items (you can).
"For one, we don't believe in the gambling aspect of some of the mechanics we're introducing, because there is no real-world currency value to the packs," he said.
"And there is the aspect of you know what you're getting with the packs in terms of the assets you expect to get."
Time will tell whether pack odds disclosures will be enough to keep the concern about FIFA Ultimate Team at bay.
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