EA say they plan to disclose odds of loot box items in FIFA 19 and other sport 'em ups, though it's unclear quite how specific they'll get. Loot boxes in FIFA? Yup, those are the 'packs' of random players and power-ups for FIFA's long-running Ultimate Team mode (FUT), sold for a virtuacash or a premium microtransaction currency, which players use to build and boost a team. The packs give a vague indication of what might be inside (a bit like Mass Effect multiplayer, if that's a more illuminating reference point to you) but doesn't actually tell players odds on getting the specific shinies they long for - a common but still shoddy loot box practice.
"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," EA Sports VP Daryl Holt told our corporate siblings Eurogamer at an event last week. "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, Eurogamer say, he didn't explain more about what specifically they will divulge, and EA didn't have any more to tell them when pressed for a follow-up. Will they go into such fine detail as specific cards, or leave it at classes of cards, or...? FIFA 19's out on September 28, so I suppose we'll see soon enough.
Loot boxes benefit from keeping odds secret, often making people believe they have more chance of getting top stuff than they do. Since China passed a law requiring games in their country to disclose odds, it's become even more clear that loot boxes are often exploitative guff. The disclosure of odds is one element that Australia's new loot box committee will investigate.
Belgium and the Netherlands have recently taken issue with some forms of loot boxes, declaring them illegal gambling. That's not all loot boxes, mind. But as more governments start paying more attention to loot boxes and players become more fed up with microtransaction crudboxes, clearly developers are trying to defuse some of the tension. One option, of course, would be to not have them. But Holt defends FUT and its packs.
"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," Holt told EG. "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."
Aye, but if we're both about as good and you've splashed cash on a fancier team, you'll probably win.
"Choice is key," Holt said. "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."
Ah yes, the choice whether or not to play a mode you paid for, and the choice to have an easier ride if you pay--and have--more money. Freedom is a beautiful thing.