FIFA 21 will reportedly allow players (and/or their parents) to set limits on the amount of virtual currency they can buy. The latest patch notes mention a feature called Playtime, which is set to go live today on PC and November 17th on consoles. According to EA, Playtime is "a new suite of tools that enable players to have more control and visibility over how they play" and it’s accessible through various game modes.
In practice, Eurogamer reports, Playtime will allow players or their guardians to control the likes of how many FIFA 21 matches they can play, communication with other gamers and, perhaps most importantly, virtual currency limits. Players use FIFA points for in-game transactions, such as Ultimate Team (FUT) packs. Playtime will apparently let you place limits on the number of points you can buy through the in-game store and how many packs you can buy with that currency or FUT Coins.
The tool may also give you a clearer idea of how much you spend on points. The game won't be able to track the total real-world value of the points you purchase. Consoles handle the in-game payment process, and you can buy points with a physical gift card. EA only knows how many points you've added to your account, so you'll need to do the math to figure out how much that’s worth in actual money. Points you buy outside of the game will count towards whatever limit you set.
Microtransaction mechanics such as FUT packs have been extremely lucrative for EA. In the 2019 fiscal year, it generated over $1.3 billion in net revenue from Ultimate Team modes in FIFA, NHL and Madden games. However, EA's approach to microtransactions has been controversial.
FUT packs are a version of a game mechanic called loot boxes, and they include a random selection of players that gamers can add to their Ultimate Team for online play. That's led to accusations that FUT packs constitute a pay-to-win system and that they're a form of gambling.
Meanwhile, the publisher faced backlash last month when an ad appeared in a UK toy store magazine encouraging readers (many of whom would be kids) to use FIFA points to open FUT packs.