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FIFA Ultimate Team will reveal odds of landing a top star

EA Sports finally answers fans’ long-running demand

EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

For the first time in the mode’s 10-year history, FIFA Ultimate Team will reveal the odds players have of finding items when they open a pack of virtual cards.

Daryl Holt, the chief operating officer for EA Sports, told Eurogamer that FIFA 19 will show the chances of winning certain types of items. Players and other items within Ultimate Team — whose objective is to assemble a highly rated fantasy sports squad, basically — are usually classified as bronze, silver, gold, rare and other labels according to the players’ ratings and/or fame.

Ultimate Team already makes assurances that a certain type of pack will contain at least a certain number of items in one tier, and at least one of a higher classification. But as consumables (these would be things like “contract extensions,” which are applied to players already on one’s rosters) figure in, that disclosure is hardly an assurance that a player will be getting a valuable player when they’re making a decision to buy a pack.

Packs of Ultimate Team cards are opened with an in-game currency that is freely acquired by playing that mode. The currency is also available for purchase with real money.

Eurogamer notes that Holt’s statement doesn’t mean the odds of getting a specific player will be disclosed. Nor is it certain that a pack odds disclosure would even go so far as to say what the chances are of getting a player within a certain range of ratings.

An EA Sports representative told Polygon that the disclosure would apply to all Ultimate Team offerings for the coming year (Madden NFL, NHL and NBA Live all have Ultimate Team modes). As for whether this would retroactively apply to the Ultimate Team mode for EA Sports UFC 3, which launched in February, EA said it had nothing to announce right now.

It all shows the publisher’s ongoing sensitivity to criticism that it exploits players with such systems of microtransactions, card packs and loot crates. Electronic Arts has worn a hair shirt since the November premiere of Star Wars Battlefront 2, a game whose advancement, at launch anyway, was heavily tied to acquiring loot crates whose contents were practically unknowable. EA boss Andrew Wilson obliquely apologized for this in a statement at the company’s EA Play showcase during E3, in which he said EA would make sure that “you feel you are treated fairly.”

Ultimate Team modes have been around for more than a decade, and are significant drivers of revenue to EA’s bottom line. They are different from the kind of loot crate mechanisms seen at Battlefront 2’s launch and in Need For Speed: Payback around the same time last year. Ultimate Team is its own mode, and no one has to acquire Ultimate Team items to progress in general multiplayer, single-player franchise or other modes common to EA Sports games.

Still, players have pushed back against Ultimate Team’s somewhat opaque nature before. In November, a consumer protest called #FixFifa called for a boycott of buying Ultimate Team items because of the time and/or money required to acquire a top star in that mode. FIFA players have also demanded, over the years, that EA Sports disclose pack odds the way some other card collection games now do.

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