Among Ultimate Team gamers a phrase that’s commonly thrown around is “Pack Luck”. It’s annoying as hell and exactly what you’d think it was: do you pull more good packs than bad packs or did you hit the UT jackpot with an exceptional card in a single pack. But does luck really have anything to do with it? Is there such thing as pack luck? No, there is no pack luck. Luck is an unpredictable and uncontrollable force. FIFA packs while unpredictable are controllable, they’re controlled by probabilities and statistics. Nothing more, nothing less.

In FIFA 17 Ultimate Team there are 1,808 total gold cards (excluding In-Forms). Of which you can split them into two categories: rare (681) representing 37.7% of the total and non-rare (1,127) which make up the balance. So right away your chance of pulling a common over a rare is nearly two to one. For those that don’t know, the Gold Rare overall rating varies from a 76 to 94 and the Gold Non Rare from a 75 to 82. Below is a distribution of rating by gold card type. screen-shot-101916-9-11-pm-2gold-cards

*Note this is straight up odds of card versus total, it does not take into account a card’s weight distribution among the population. So in reality your chances are far worse than these numbers. 

The probabilities are not in your favor friends. Of those 1,808 cards only 8 players have ratings of 90+, approximately 0.004% of the total gold cards. They are Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Boateng, Bale, Ibrahimovic & Lewandowski. The percentage of 86+ overall rated cards (minimum threshold to get me up in the morning) is 2.8%. The percentage of cards you’d actually give a damn about is probably no more than 5% of the total. We’re all fighting for that same 5%. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun playing FUT with lower rated players but let’s be honest we’re all looking for those top rated stars.

In FUT when you’re creating a team you typically go one of three ways: One League, One Nation or Hybrid. With 40 leagues in FUT and 19 (respectable) nations take the odds above by card tier and then factor in pulling a card that actually fits the team you’ve decided to pursue. The odds are becoming slimmer and slimmer you’ll pull a card to be excited about. Sure you can pull a La Liga card worth 15,000 coin and sell that off to build up your Premier League team but the majority of the time you’re pulling filler cards not elite cards that will generate additional card buying opportunities.

Based on a case study I did with a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, we tested the value of Premium Gold Packs after he spent $200 to see what exactly the odds are for spending a significant amount of money.

PREMIUM GOLD PACKS

The Premium Gold Pack sells for 7,500 coin or 150 FIFA points (roughly $1.36 per pack) and gives you 12 total items, 10 gold, 3 rare. There is no guarantee for # of players in that pack. With the exception of the Gold Players Pack, which guarantees all cards to be players, no pack whether it’s a jumbo or mega jumbo – whatever the hell they want to call it – pack tells you exactly what amount of players you’ll receive. So you can get a pack with 30 items but seven might be players and the rest are consumables and club paraphernalia.screen-shot-101616-3-39-pm

As I mentioned above my friend, and co-sponsor for this research, dropped $200 on FUT coin in order to strictly buy Premium Gold packs. *Spoiler alert* he became so enraged with the outcome of the packs that he gave me all his coin and essentially quit the game after a half decade of playing. People are becoming more fed up with pack nonsense and Ultimate Team rewards (or lack there of). The #TeamNoMoney movement is spreading and it coincides with my #CleanUltimateTeam mission I started a few months ago. Just for clarity there is no gifting of coin in FIFA (or trades) but I put players up for max on the transfer block and we coordinated and he paid those amounts. The total coin amount? Keep reading to find out.

  • $19.99 = 2,200 FIFA Points
  • $200.00 = 22,000 FIFA Points
  • 150 Points per Pack with 22,000 Points = 147 Premium Gold Packs

When opening packs we wanted to test out all the myths when it comes to packs: time of day, day of the week, opening all consecutively or leaving the store and going back in to refresh the catalog. Everyone has their hypothesis. Some people think packs are better during off hours/middle of the night while others claim weekend packs are worse than weekday packs. We spread our sample size over various days and various times and the outcome was the same. Not good. News flash there is no evidence that any particular time, day, method generates better or worse outcomes. They are all equally poor.

Best Pulls (Rating): Miranda (86), Nicolas Gaitan (85), Raphael Varane (84), Omer Toprak (84), Cesar Azpilcueta (84), Isco (84) and Yevgen Konoplyanka (83)

Best Pulls (Price): Miranda (29K), Raheem Sterling (26K), Marcus Rashford (15K), Nicolas Gaitan (13K) and Michy Batshuayi (13K)

Most Common Pulls: Michael Carrick (x5), Felipe Melo (x4) and Danijel Subasic (x4)

Average Pack “Drop All” Value: 1,339 coin (-6,161 value vs. pack cost) (-82%)

Average Pack “Market” Value: 2,250 coin (-5,250 value vs. pack cost) (-70%)

Average Silver Player Card Appearance: Roughly 1 in 4 packs (25%)

Total Coin (via drops + market sells) ~ 300,000 coin

Everyone has their own idea and perception of value but based on those numbers do you think that constitutes spending $200 on FUT packs? Sure that 300,000 coin can go a long way but at the end of the day they are fictional digital assets. When the life of that game ends those cards are worthless. You don’t carry them forward and they have no monetary value. We didn’t pull one “Walk Out” player after dropping that much cash. That’s criminal in a way but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised because the probabilities above should’ve told us it’s the equivalent of winning the lottery.

Even if you strike at rich and pull someone worth 100,000 coin in September the clock is ticking. The depreciation is running and their value over time will diminish. You either sell immediately and then lose out on that player making buying packs pointless in it’s nature unless you’re in it to accumulate coin or you keep them and the face the harsh reality when they’re worth less than half a few months later. screen-shot-10816-4-12-pm-2

PREMIER LEAGUE

If you’re going to build a team maybe it’s best to build a Premier League team. The overall prices might be a little high due to the fact it’s the world’s most popular league but the options are plentiful. Unlike the Spanish La Liga where you’ll never reach the pinnacle (no one will ever be able to afford Ronaldo, Messi, Bale, Suarez and Neymar) in the Premier League you can get close. In the PL there is only one 90+ rated player (Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and outside of Sergio Aguero and Paul Pogba no one is so insanely priced you can’t get them without some real hard work.pl

In the overall scheme of gold rare players in the game, the Premier League has 25% of them. The majority of gold players in the Premier League actually skews in the favor of rare over non rare. The only downfall is the majority of players lie within the 80-82 range and if I’ve learned anything not all overall ratings are created equal. In my cases overall rating is pointless, it’s the ratings in the sub-traits that matter most. An 82 Anthony Martial doesn’t have the same value as an 82 Jack Wilshere. Nor does an 81 N’Golo Kante and 81 Christian Benteke. So within that subset you need to carve out the “Demand Players” like Vardy, Kante, Sterling, Walcott versus the “Supply Players” like Oscar, Lallana, Mertesacker and Cahill.
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The ex-factor we don’t know is how many of a certain player or tier or however EA Sports FIFA decides to categorize them, are allowed in the market at any given time. It’s a supply and demand game, FIFA controls the flow and quantities of the more valuable cards. In other words what is each card’s weight of distribution. There’s a reason you’ve pulled an 82 Phil Jagielka multiple times (I’ve done so in back to back packs during the FUT Reward stage) compared to an 82 Jamie Vardy which might as well be a unicorn. Have you ever pulled a Seattle Sounders jerseys? Didn’t think so. But how many times have you received a Rubin Kazan Russian League kit? Too many to count.

Last night I logged in and saw there were 2,354,665 live transfers in the market at 8:30 pm. I decided to test how many of specific players were available at that given time:

  • Ronaldo – 16
  • Messi – 24
  • Pogba – 27
  • Neymar – 36
  • Lacazette – 102
  • Toprak – 665
  • Oscar – 1,720
  • Carrick – 1,194

The numbers are slightly misleading because if you did manage to hit the jackpot and pull a Ronaldo or Messi what are the odds you’d actually sell them? Sure someone would try and cash in and then buy any squad of their choosing but most would hold onto them and not put them on the transfer block. The low number on the market doesn’t necessarily dictate how many are available in the population but of course the number will not be that great in relation to other cards.screen-shot-101916-8-48-pm

Then you run into Oscar, an 83 midfielder for Chelsea, who has good value having links to the Premier League and Brazil. His statistics are solid but not great and yet he holds value. There were 1,720 of him on the market last night the equivalent of 156 pages of auction cards. That quantity is 526 more than Michael Carrick an 81 CDM from Manchester United. One could presume that Oscar is less rare than Carrick because he has more cards available for sale but I don’t think that’s the case. Oscar’s value is roughly 4,000 coin so selling him makes sense. Carrick’s value is slightly above drop so many people will probably discard him or keep him rather than taking the time, effort and space on their transfer list to gather 50 more coin.

My point to all this is: it’s all random and the chances of you pulling someone of significant value versus your investment in the packs is slim. Overall rating doesn’t have a one-to-one relationship with higher price, neither does transfer market availability. It’s deeper than that, it’s about trends and who is popular like Chicharito, Nani or Alexandre Lacazette or has a special trait that makes them stand out in the field like Kingsley Coman (93 Pace) or Quaresma (88 Dribbling). Of course position depth and scarcity matters as well but hopefully that’s common sense at this point.

CONCLUSION – CLEAN ULTIMATE TEAM

It’s not for me to tell you how you spend your money but hopefully by shedding some light on the odds and outcomes of pack buying in FUT you think twice. Ultimately it’s your hard earned dollars and you can do what you want with them. I’ve chosen my path and those dollars are going places that either have a return on my investment or have tangible working capital. For months now I’ve been preaching #CleanUltimateTeam and after this experiment I’m more firm than ever in never spending money on Ultimate Team modes again. I would rather put my kids through college (obviously I’m not spending that kind of money on UT it’s a figure of speech) than have some executive make a bonus at Electronic Arts.

It’s disgraceful that you can spend that much money ($200 is a lot of money for digital additions to an already $60 priced game) and really get nothing in return. The rewards are feeble and I get EA Sports are running a business too but come on this is embarrassing. For every one person who shows that they pulled an In Form Ronaldo there are 10,000 other people who pull absolutely nothing. You can’t be tricked by the RTs on Social Media, it’s fools gold. It’s a classic example of ‘positive bias’. Even if you win in the short term you’ll lose in the long run if you keep playing. It’s the casino model and how many casino’s have ever reported losses? Not many except for of course that dip shit Trump. The business model has been proven to be in their favor not ours. But we as gamers and gamblers continue to think we have “luck” or “pack luck” in this situation and I hate to break it to you….luck is an excuse for continuing to believe in a losing proposition.

FIFA Ultimate Team is a great mode, hell it’s my favorite mode in any sports video game out there. I’m not saying don’t play it, I’m saying don’t pay for it. 
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