EA Now Lets Players Set Spending Limits on FIFA 21 FUT Packs

Posted on: November 17, 2020, 05:05h. 

Last updated on: November 17, 2020, 09:57h.

FIFA 21 publisher Electronic Arts (EA) rolled out new player protections for the globally popular soccer simulation video game Tuesday. These include the ability for players to set limits on the time and money they are spending on the game.

EA
The latest incarnation of EA’s soccer series FIFA 21, released last month, now includes new player protections. (Image: EA)

The new package of features, dubbed FIFA Playtime, are almost certainly part of a bid to avoid tighter regulatory controls. An increasing number of jurisdictions across the world are scrutinizing the game’s loot boxes and microtransactions for similarities to gambling.

Last month, the Redwood City, California-based company was ordered by a Dutch court to pay a €10 million ($11.7 million) fine for violating the Netherlands’ Betting and Gaming Act. EA has vowed to appeal.

What are EA’s FUT Packs?

Loot boxes are virtual items which can be acquired either through gameplay or in-game purchases (microtransactions), and offer players a randomized chance to win other virtual items of varying rarity.

Through FIFA Ultimate Team packs (FUT packs), which can be bought with real money, gamers can unlock virtual versions of famous soccer players, with the goal of assembling the ultimate team.

It’s big business. EA announced earlier this year that FIFA 20 was the number one most-engaged title in the company’s subscription services. In Q4 2019 alone, EA reported $1 billion in microtransactions.

But it’s the combination of real money, chance-based mechanics, and the youthful market for video games that have proved to be controversial.

‘Grounded in Research’

EA has always denied its games contain gambling elements, although FIFA Playtime introduces the kind of safeguards that are often associated with gambling products. Players, or their parents, will be able to monitor their spending by setting limits on how much premium currency they can buy, and the number of FUT packs they can open.

The integration of both tracking and limits in FIFA Playtime is grounded in research that shows that having access to more information helps players feel comfortable with how they play,” EA said in a blog post. “When combined with smart prompts to guide choices, players were able to better find a comfortable balance in their gaming.”

The company is anxious to avoid the blanket bans on paid-for FUT packs that have been imposed in Holland and Belgium.

FIFA Playtime features will join FIFA 21 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One from Tuesday, Nov. 17, and then on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X from Dec. 4.