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EA sticks with loot boxes for FIFA 22 Ultimate Team, but adds preview packs

In transition.

FIFA 22 Ultimate Team features the mode's long-standing and controversial loot boxes, EA has confirmed.

However, EA will use the preview packs it trialed towards the end of FIFA 21's life.

Cover image for YouTube videoFIFA 22 Ultimate Team | Official Trailer

In June, under increasing pressure from governments, children's welfare groups and gambling charities, EA added the ability to see what's inside FIFA 21 loot boxes before you buy them.

These Ultimate Team preview packs let you see all the specific items contained within them before you make a decision on whether to buy with FUT Coins or FIFA Points. (FUT Coins is a virtual currency earned through gameplay. FIFA Points is a virtual currency bought with real-world money.)

If you do not buy the pack, you see the previewed pack remains in the store, where it is now on a refresh timer. The timer has to expire before you can preview another pack of the same type.

Preview packs are one of the biggest shakeups to Ultimate Team since its inception, and marked a significant change to the way the controversial - and highly lucrative - mode is monetised.

The change came amid increasing pressure from governments about the link between video game loot boxes and gambling. EA's FIFA series is part of ongoing investigations into the impact of loot boxes, particularly on children, with many groups calling for a change in legislation to categorise loot boxes such as Ultimate Team packs as gambling.

It was clear EA was testing the waters with these changes in FIFA 21 in response to this scrutiny - and now we know they will carry forward into FIFA 22.

Preview packs will be available in FIFA 22 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, Stadia and PC - but not Nintendo Switch.

At launch, the premium gold pack will be available for preview on a 24 hour refresh timer alongside the non-preview version. The premium silver pack will be available for preview on a 24 hour refresh timer alongside the non-preview version, too.

The question will be whether these preview packs go far enough. In the UK, the government is looking into loot boxes to see if the law should be applied to them. In December 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched a review of loot boxes alongside a wider review of the Gambling Act 2005, and in June 2020 announced a public call for evidence. The government commissioned Abertay University to assess this evidence, and the hope is a report will be issued by the end of this year. If so, the government may act at some point in 2022.

While EA maintains Ultimate Team's loot boxes do not constitute gambling, in a recent regulatory financial document the company acknowledged a change in the law could significantly impact its business.