Electronic Arts took a ton of flak last winter for how Star Wars Battlefront II handled loot boxes, but somehow it’s always seemed to avoid the same sort of push-back when it came to its EA Sports titles and Ultimate Team modes.
It sounds like the publisher is trying to get ahead of the story this time around, as EA Sports VP and COO Daryl Holt recently stated that Ultimate Team packs in this year’s sports titles will disclose the odds of what you might get when you open one.
“For Ultimate Team, when you buy a pack you know what you are getting,” Holt told Eurogamer. “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. 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.”
Eurogamer specifically asked about loot box odds becoming a feature in FIFA 19, but an EA representative confirmed to EGM that Madden NFL 19, NBA Live 19, NHL 19, and FIFA 19 will all disclose Ultimate Team pack odds.
EA chief design officer Patrick Söderlund recently stated that “fair is the number one thing” when it comes to live service games like EA Sports titles and upcoming skill-based shooters like Battlefield V, the latter of which won’t have any loot boxes. That could be one reason why EA has finally decided to disclose the odds of Ultimate Team packs, but it could also have something to do with the fact that more and more countries are taking legal action against publishers for including gambling in their games. In fact, Belgium declared in April that FIFA 18‘s loot boxes were a form of gambling and therefore subject to Belgian gambling laws.
Whatever the motivation, this seems like a smart move on EA’s part, at least in terms of public perception. The fact that Ultimate Team packs were flying under the radar when it came to loot box scrutiny severely conflicted with the publisher’s loudest message at EA Play 2018, which was that it would do whatever it could to avoid another Battlefront II-style controversy. It will be interesting to see, however, if the amount of money that EA earns from Ultimate Packs will take a hit when the odds are available pre-purchase.
We’ll find out soon enough, as EA Sports’ first 19 title, Madden NFL 19, launches on August 10th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.