EA has confirmed that in FIFA 22 Ultimate Team it will continue to use a purchasable loot box-style system like previous games, but that it’ll also be bringing the FUT Preview Packs introduced in FIFA 21 over to the latest release.
The news was revealed by EA in a recent Pitch Notes (opens in new tab) post by Jamey Cane, Product Manager on FIFA Ultimate Team, covering what players can expect from FIFA Ultimate Team at launch. Cane said that “following a positive reception from fans after their introduction in FIFA 21, Preview Packs will be available in FIFA 22” across its platforms.
Preview Packs were introduced in June 2021 (opens in new tab), towards the end of FIFA 21’s lifecycle, amid a great deal of scrutiny from governments and public bodies – only last year it was reported (via GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab)) that EA was hit with a fine in the Netherlands after the country’s Gambling Authority found loot boxes in violation of the Betting and Gaming Act.
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Preview Packs make it possible for Ultimate Team players to see what randomized items are in a pack before they commit their FUT Coins or FIFA Points to buying it. Essentially, you get to see what you’re paying for. Once a pack has been previewed, if a player is happy with the contents and decides to go ahead with the purchase, a new Preview Pack of the same type will appear in its place. If the player doesn’t want to buy, then they’ll have to wait for a timer to run out before they can access a new Preview Pack of the same type.
Before the introduction of Preview Packs you had to buy a pack and hope against hope that it contained cards that would provide a return on value or were usable at that point in the game cycle. It’s worth noting that it’s still possible to partake in the true ye olde loot box experience as non-preview packs are still present, it’s just that there’s now some kind of alternative.
At launch, then, it’s confirmed that premium gold and premium silver packs will be available for preview on a 24 hour refresh timer alongside their non-preview counterparts.
Analysis: Not a big surprise
It’s really not all that surprising that EA is carrying this approach forward after testing it in FIFA 21. FIFA’s Ultimate Team is hugely lucrative for EA and while adding the ability to preview what’s in packs was a shakeup and provided a way for EA to show in some way that might have heard the criticism levelled at the system, they haven’t exactly hampered it.
In fact, it was only last month that EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson said in an earnings call (opens in new tab) that Preview Packs have been “very well received by the community.” According to Wilson, EA saw “an increase in engagement, and we saw a higher rate of conversion of spenders. I would say it was coming down towards the end of the season. So some of this data has to be taken in that context. But the team is committed to continue to innovate in and around the offers and the programs that we put together for our players and believe that we can continue to grow that business over time.”
Later in the call, Wilson also added, “what we saw with Preview Packs was we saw a higher incidence of new players coming into Ultimate Team and we saw high conversion of those new players in and around buying packs and participating in the digital ecosystem. So again, long term, we think that, that model will continue to grow. We think that is a means of connection to your friends and connections to the sport you love and continue to grow. And our teams are going to continue to look for interesting and new and innovative and creative ways that allow people to really more deeply engage, and Preview Packs is one of those examples.”
FIFA 22 is set to release on October 1, 2021 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Stadia and PC. As further revealed by the Pitch Notes post, EA Play members will be able to “kick off their FUT 22 journey with a 10 hour trial starting from September 22” while those who pre-ordered Ultimate Edition will get full game access starting September 27.