The biggest gaming-related controversy is loot boxes – but like them or hate them, it’s no secret that this enormous money-maker is here to stay.
However, while it will most likely be seen in some form or another in a ton of big-budget multiplayer titles, the pushback against it has been nothing short of huge as well. Electronic Arts, one of the biggest video game publishers in the entire world has seen its fair share of just what can happen when you implement loot boxes too far, and now they may pay a hefty €10 million fine for it.
In what could arguably be described as a bid to fix their reputation when it comes to these loot box controversies, EA has recently announced a change for FIFA 21 and its Ultimate Team content, the biggest money-making avenue for the brand. Starting last June 18, FIFA 21 will have Preview Packs, time-limited card packs that can be had for the remaining duration of the Festival of FUTBall campaign.
Just what are these Preview Packs exactly? In a nutshell, they are aptly named as they will allow players to see all the specific items contained within the packs before making an informed purchase, whether with FUT Coins or FIFA points. Until the end of the Festival, these are the only packs that will be available in the FUT Store, which means that players can take advantage of this offer for only a limited time.
How do these Festival of FUTBall Preview Packs work?
First off, players need to understand that these Preview Packs are only applicable to those packs that you can purchase from the FUT Store. If you get a pack from Division Rivals or Squad Building Challenge rewards, those packs will still work as usual.
The Preview Packs work in a new in-game flow. You’ll notice an eye icon above packs which you can preview, as well as a button prompt that does this. It’s important to note that previewing a pack means that you are not yet deciding to buy it, as this leads to a pack opening animation.
After the animation, you will see everything that is inside the pack you have just previewed. You can then proceed to buy it with either FUT Coins or FIFA Points, whichever you prefer. That said, EA also points out that possible duplicates within the pack which you already own are not viewable; you need to learn it yourself by knowing if you already have a specific card or not. There is one final confirmation screen before you buy the pack, after which you have now completed the purchase.
What happens if you preview the pack and decide that you don’t want to purchase it?
This is where some of the caveats lie with this new feature. If you decide not to purchase the pack, it will remain in the store for you to either purchase another time, or to let it expire. Previewing packs and not purchasing them puts them on a timer. This timer lets you know when you can preview another pack of the same type again.
While on the timer, the previewed pack will be reviewable and you still have the option to purchase it. However, as EA points out, there are two major exceptions. The first is for Time Limited Packs, which the company has introduced in FUT. The refresh timers for this will not show if the expiration of the pack itself is ahead of the refresh limit. For instance, if a Time Limited Pack ends in 17 hours, and you preview it with a refresh timer of 24, then you will not see the refresh timer at all and the pack – plus the Preview – will expire in 17 instead.
For Limited Quantity Packs, it works on the same principle, but instead of time, you have quantity. Limited Quantity Packs have a global limit and once you reach it, you cannot buy them anymore.
A weird “kicker,” so to speak
As noted in this whole posting from EA, it would seem that Preview Packs have a 24-hour refresh timer. It’s a good way for players to know what they’re getting into before spending in-game, and a good response on their part to curb the many controversies regarding their implementations of loot boxes.
However, there is a very small footnote to all of this, and that is what exactly happens after you buy a previewed pack. The posting makes note of the timer for what happens if you don’t buy one, but it’s a bit more conservative in wording what happens if you do decide to buy a previewed pack. In the words of EA:
8. If the refresh timer is still active you can either: Buy the pack. You will then have the ability to immediately preview another, if one is available...
As confirmed in a Reddit post, it would seem that there is no refresh timer if you decide to purchase the previewed pack. While the whole system is a good step towards trying to curb the randomness of the whole experience and to try and make it a bit less like gambling, there are still some very important caveats to consider such as this one.
Whatever your thoughts are, these Preview Packs are only available for the duration of the Festival of FUTBall. Whether it’s a beta for a reworked Ultimate Team system or a seasonal promo for the players is something that’s still up in the air.