EA is testing transparent lockboxes in a FIFA game

Now that's a real surprise mechanic


Remember two years ago when the ESA announced an optional new policy for the US games industry that would theoretically encourage games companies to catch up with the then-already-present trend to disclose the odds of items hidden in gambleboxes, lootboxes, and lockboxes? We were all pretty skeptical that anything would ever come of it, since not only was it not going to be mandatory, but it appeared to be an attempt to deflect the actual government regulation that was heating up before the pandemic derailed pretty much everything. In fact, the ESA almost immediately started holding the policy up as a shield in response to government inquiries, despite nothing concrete actually having been designed, timelined, implemented, or enforced. Predictable, right?

Two years later, many of the original signatories of this new policy have still done very little to curb their gamblebox excesses. But one EA title is finally poised to adopt transparent lockboxes, something we’ve seen in MMOs since at least 2017. The game here is FIFA Ultimate Team, which is apparently testing gambleboxes that display to players what they could potentially win before they buy them.

“For the remainder of the Festival of FUTball campaign, all FUT Packs available for purchase in the FUT Store will be Preview Packs. While the names of the Packs will likely be familiar, they will work differently to the Packs you’ve experienced before. Preview Packs will allow you to see the specific Items in that Pack, before you decide if you want to buy the Pack. Packs not directly obtained from the FUT Store, such as rewards from Division Rivals, or earned from an Objective or SBC will not be Preview Packs, and will continue to function as they do now. […] If you choose to buy a Preview Pack, with either FUT Coins or FIFA Points, you will go through a new in-game flow. This flow will show you the specific Items that are within the pack before you are given the option to obtain it.”

It’s a bit of a surprise from the company that tried to launder gambleboxes as “surprise mechanics” that would give players a “sense of pride and accomplishment.” Of course, as we’ve noted in the past, revealing the potential winnings and odds does reduce fraud but does little to curb gambling problems. The House always wins, and if it didn’t, it wouldn’t run the game – it’d just directly sell you the thing. Your best bet is always not to play.

Source: FIFA via Kotaku

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Honestly not all that surprising.

You can still “refresh” the loot box contents by buying a “bad” box and get new results. This means people who either are going after something specific can still just cycle through tons of boxes till they get what they want. However what this does is essentially add a reason for people who typically wouldn’t engage with that mechanic to check now as well as log in more often to so (similar to daily login reward style mechanics in MMOs). So in theory it shouldn’t really slow sales down at all and should add new buyers something they’re likely testing for the duration of this.

Also big groan at the implication they said lock boxes bring a sense of pride and accomplishment. They didn’t. Like the scenario was already rotten enough without the need to embellish and make it seem worse.


It will likely make “rare” rewards more common since a lot of players will be checking their “transparent” lootbox every day and purchasing if it is worth the money. So, it will result in the average awarded item becoming rarer and more expensive without messing with the actual item probabilities.

I wonder if EA will allow that to happen — making rare rewards less valuable, and thus diluting the incentive to open multiple lootboxes — or if it will make the rare and valuable rewards even rarer as a result.


It wouldn’t make them more common, it would make the pool of them that you’d see users have more common. So you’re more likely to encounter people with better players as a result.

Like lets just say for the sake of argument it’d take 1000 lockboxes to make your dream team scenario. A normal person would be looking at 3 years of strategic purchases before that became a thing. Meanwhile your whales can just flip through all that on day one. So the incentive for the whales to purchase are still there cause they get strong players faster than someone who might take those 3 years to match up. Then on top of that what’s likely to happen in that 3 year time frame is a new FIFA or a new booster pack or whatever ends up coming out that renders that 3 year wait entirely dated.

So the likelihood that more people with better players ends up being an issue seems pretty low over all depending on the time frame/boxes it takes to make that dream set. Again all these mega corps have loads of analysts and data nerds who’re likely going over all this stuff that was probably part of the business proposal that lead to a move like this in the first place. Roll out a limited test, if it works out make it the new standard. Done.


I’d like them to test good game design … and learn what the word “game” means.


FIFA used to make around $300m a year, since Ultimate Team launched it has grown to making around $1.3b a year.

I’m not sure they care about good game design.


They have been literally reselling the same game for 20 years, just updating the graphics and changing the players. Here you can’t really blame them, blame the players, who are also the same that keep rebuying the same Call of Duty over and over or buying World of Warcraft over and over again each time a new “expansions” releases.


Transparent lockboxes sounds oxymoronic though. o.O


It allows you to see how much the next pack you could buy will suck.

The thing is, it takes a long time (apparently more than 20 hours) to refuse a pack. So, if you know the next pack sucks, you could either not buy, only being allowed to try again the next day, or buy the crappy pack anyway so you can immediately try for something better. While it’s indeed more consumer-friendly than regular lootboxes, that is a very low bar to clear.


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  • Made Skinner Boxes Transparent
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    I imagine this (like the ESRB/PEGI ratings) is a move to avoid any actual regulation by saying, “See, we’re regulating ourselves just fine!”

    EA has a huge interest in making sure that lockboxes aren’t restricted/limited, especially for FIFA. That’s their big moneymaker with the franchise, and the franchise is their biggest annual moneymaker overall (IIRC it pretty firmly destroys every other ongoing franchise in a big way). If that tap starts drying up they’re gonna be looking for big cost cutting or ways to see huge revenue boosts elsewhere.