There’s been a lot of fuss concerning FIFA Ultimate Team packs being akin to loot boxes, which are said by some to be a form of gambling. This follows Electronic Arts’ highly-publicised loot box system in Star Wars: Battlefront II, which led to a global discussion on the topic at the end of 2017. FIFA Ultimate Team, on the other hand, has been going strong since 2014, proving to be the most popular game mode of the globe-trotting franchise. So, let’s take a look to see if there are any parallels between FUT packs and the games that are said to inspire loot boxes.
FUT Packs vs The Lottery
Everyone knows that to win the lottery, even just the UK’s National Lottery, you have to defy astronomical odds. It has been found that to win the National Lottery jackpot, you have a chance of 1 in 45,057,474, or a chance of 1 in 139,838,160 to win the EuroMillions jackpot. These present some tremendously long odds, but offer a chance of winning massive real-money rewards.
With FIFA Ultimate Team packs, it has been found that every time you open a pack, your odds of landing one of the Team of the Year XI players released earlier this year is less than one per cent. As probability goes, this implies that through 100 packs, there’s still a chance that you’d miss out. However, the probability doesn’t increase with more pack openings, so there’s less than one per cent chance to land one of these top players in every draw.
While the chance to win real money compared to the chance to win an admittedly game-changing, yet only virtual money-winning player is a stark difference, with the lottery, you can slightly increase your odds of winning the jackpot by playing more number combinations. In FIFA Ultimate Team, the probability remains the same with each opening.
FUT Packs vs Slot Games
Slot games have often been used as the comparator to loot boxes as they are very popular and everyone knows how they work: you put in some money, spin, and hope for more in return. Probability in slot games is measured in two ways: volatility and return to player (RTP).
As an example, the popular Bonanza slot game has an RTP of 95.98 per cent and high volatility, with the RTP percentage indicating how much the game will pay out as an average of all money paid in to play and the volatility dictating how often the game pays out and how varied the payouts can be, with highly volatile slots paying out less often but in larger sums on average.
In variations of FUT Gold Packs, you can find increased odds to get the best players per draw, but there aren’t any parameters within the game’s algorithm to dictate how much virtual currency needs to be paid in to release one of the best players, on average, or the volatility of the player ratings in each draw. This is because drawing packs in FIFA Ultimate Team is down to the probability of each draw as opposed to appeasing a cumulative average.
Of course, with slot games and FUT packs, there’s the obvious difference that with games like the exampled Bonanza, there’s the chance to win the jackpot of 120,000 coins, made more likely, on average, due to its high RTP and volatility, whereas even with the Ultimate Pack, there’s a set 3.4 percent chance to get a 90-plus player (effectively a jackpot) on every draw. FIFA Ultimate Team packs are quite different from the two most popular forms of gambling games. Along with the other mechanical differences explained, while players opening packs are playing against probabilities, they’re not necessarily gambling because there isn’t a chance of receiving a monetary reward.
Purchasing FIFA packs doesn’t necessarily equate to gambling; however, they remain a question mark for many. While the future may be uncertain surrounding loot boxes, for now at least, FIFA Ultimate Team is here to stay.