FIFA Ultimate Team Packs: Strategy or Gamble?

FIFA Ultimate Team Packs: Strategy or Gamble?


Is it worth buying FIFA Ultimate Team packs? Know the answer to the question everyone should ask: “FIFA Ultimate Team Packs – Strategy or Gamble?”

We are proud to publish this article that was written by Gonçalo Cunha, expert in the influence analysis of the FIFA Ultimate Team mental factors. Find more about him on the end of the article.


FIFA Ultimate Team Packs: Strategy or Gamble?


A lot of discussion always came with the profitability of opening packs. Some players brag about their shiny new card they always get in a pack, while others stand away from them like the devil from the cross. Of course, the rational answer is that those who work hard and who trade are the ones who will get long term success; those who bet on packs are the ones who might have an occasional short term success, and long term stress. Keep in mind that this is a business, and as in any lottery, the odds of getting an excellent card are stacked against you. So, why does Electronic Arts get so much money from a rationally inadequate action such as buying packs?

Habits are at the very foundation of the answer to our behaviour. I know it isn’t a concept we would naturally associate to opening FIFA packs, but read on. I’ll try to make it as clear as possible.

A habit is something you do automatically, because you trained (and repeated) a series of events. For example, think of getting the car out of your garage. It’s an extremely complex movement the few first times you do it – you have to check your mirrors, see if the road is clear, rotate the key to light up the car, align the movement of the wheel so you don’t hit any obstacles, and so on. With time, repetition and practice, you don’t have to think each of those little actions separately: they start to become automatic. These series of events aren’t complex any more – they become an unconscious routine. You simply don’t think about them, you just execute them.

Those series of actions become an automatic routine, and as so, without your perception, you develop a habit.

So, why is it that habits have to do with the impulse of opening packs online? The very nature of a habit reveals a very primitive directive our brain has carried through the millennia: it is always trying to find the path of least resistance and finding ways to give as less effort as possible. A habit is a mechanism our brain has to attain that goal.

Keeping that in mind, you have two ways of attaining your dream players in Ultimate Team:

  • 1. You buy a ticket to the lottery: you pay (in real money or UT coins) for a chance to win the game’s best players.
  • 2. You work hard: you trade and play matches so you can eventually buy your whole dream team.

So, which one of the two seems more attractive to you? Or, putting it in another perspective, what do you think your brain will be more motivated to go for? Let’s analyse this in more detail:

  • 1. Option one (buying packs): with minimal to no effort, you buy a pack. You’ll always have the chance to win the big cards instantly. The feeling of joy, dreaming and bragging about having a ‘short cut’ to success are present.
  • 2. Option two (trading): with moderate to heavy effort, you win matches and spend a lot of time trading, finding the best players to trade and placing them all according to market demands. Hard work, perseverance and some level of analysis and study is needed here.

Knowing this, and putting this information into the game publisher’s perspective (who, by the way, spends millions of dollars every year so that it can understand what motivates you to buy from them), can you understand why it is such a profitable business? They’re just appealing to our primal, instinctive side – the one that buys on impulse, rather than reason.

They’re appealing to a dream, to something you can’t have at the moment, and actually get it with a strike of luck, instantly, just like magic.
Betting in a casino is, in many ways, similar to what you get when you buy a pack. You have the thrill of the moment, the pound of the heart, the nervous unbalance that keeps you tight to the action on the table. You gamble your way to win something you are not expected to win. And that is very appealing to our primal nature.

FIFA Ultimate Team Packs: Strategy or Gamble?

Selling packs is a great way to EA Sports make money


Pay attention, as now enters the second main reason why buying packs became so popular: the need of being better/more popular and integrated in a group. Just check the social networks and YouTube to understand this phenomena – there are literally thousands of videos of people bragging about the great players they got in a random pack. What do you think your brain will tell you? “Well, here I am working my ass off for a month, trying to acquire as many coins as I can, and then some schmuck randomly appears and gets that card I want so much in seconds. To hell with this, I’m going to try it too. If he got it, I might get it!”. Bling bling! And so Electronic Arts wins again.

However, this is not a “don’t buy packs” article. I only want you to be fully informed about what you are going to get when you open a pack. When you buy a pack, be sure to remember that you’re not doing it to win the big cards, you’re doing it for the thrill and fun of the moment (just like the casino – it’s not a way to win money, it’s a way to have a different thrill in your life and some fun).

Bottom line, due to the very, very low probability of winning great cards, it is not a profitable strategy to adopt if you want to get a great team. Before you get that Wayne Rooney, you’ll be broke for sure. However, keep in mind that it will always be a tentative feature of the game.

However, if you disagree with me, and all of your friends ‘got a great card’ buying some packs, feel free to test the information in this article. In fact, I urge you to go buy some 5, 10, or whichever amount of packs you wish, and try it for yourself. I’m a natural sceptic, so, with all these reasoning I stressed before, you would think I would never buy a pack – wrong. There is nothing like the ‘see to believe it’ method, and I sure did my part.

A fundamental idea I want you to keep on your mind is that habits never do really disappear. Unless you exercise a powerful interior will to revoke bad habits from your life, they will always be there, waiting for you to make a mistake. And remember, your brain does not choose between good or bad habits – you do.

As a finishing remark, remember that FIFA is a game, and that games are supposed to be fun. There is nothing wrong in opening a pack in a while, as it is just that: fun. In other words, you would be doing what’s your purpose in the first place! However, such like alcohol and gambling, always be fully aware of your reasons to do something and do it with moderation.

If you want fun, choose opening packs. If you want success and to win, avoid them.


FIFA Ultimate Team Packs: Strategy or Gamble?


This article was kindly written exclusively for FIFAUTeam by Gonçalo Cunha, expert in the influence analysis of the FIFA Ultimate Team mental factors and whom we thank.

The author discusses the influence of the mental factor in the success of our club in FIFA 13 Ultimate Team, a theme much despised by the players but of utmost importance.

His book ‘The winning FIFA 13 mindset: why only 5% of players win consistently on Ultimate Team’ explores these matters in an intelligent way.

FIFAUTeam strongly recommend this book.

8 thoughts on “FIFA Ultimate Team Packs: Strategy or Gamble?”

  1. This article is well written it shows the greed the truth and the fun. I stared with opening gold packs and always had a hunch it was like lottery and well turns out to be it may be it may be….Me my though is I do want to buy gold packs after gold packs because I believe we can all get to that point that maybe fifa has set on an individual accounts. I have two accounts I have spent same amount of real money and gotten in return about same amount coins and 50k+ players. 2 years and have not spent more than $40/y and no messi or ronaldo. I think when I sit and spend 2 million in gold packs I will get a messi and ronaldo in same pack hahahaha on both accounts… oh and Im at 1000 bronze packs and no IF or a Garmston that goes for 25k….but no money lost with all that its in packs. Time=coins=packs=IF money=packs=coins=IF . EA knows how much u need to spend to get good cards we all can just we all need 5million coins in packs.

  2. Boas tardes. Estou à espera que chegue o dia 29 para poder jogar FIFA 14. Enquanto aguardo vou ler os artigos que disponibilizaste para ganhar “insight” acerca do FIFA. Noto, e posso estar enganado, conhecimentos de psicologia, como componentes motivacionais, e compras por impulso. E já agora se não considerares indiscrição, aqui fica o meu gamertag, se quiseres jogar contra um novato, ou ter um como amigo na PSN, aqui fica o meu: realryu_pt

    1. Olá Marco.
      Antes de mais obrigado pelo comentário. Se quiseres também podes aceder à versão portuguesa do nosso website.
      Este artigo em particular foi escrito pelo meu amigo Gonçalo que tem formação superior nessas componentes que referenciaste. Eu sou fã pois, além de escrever bem, ele consegue fazer uma abordagem ao jogo que mais ninguém faz. Eu não tenho formação nessas áreas. Sou mais virado para números. 🙂
      Fiquei confuso foi com a tua consola. Deduzo que fosses XBox e que irás passar para PS4. Será isso ? É que a gamertag confundiu-me. Se for isso, adiciona-me ‘supergarajau’ na PSN.

  3. Jairo Caetano

    What about happy hours and Special Teams weeks, when the TOTS and TOTY come in packs? Is this too hard to catch a worthful card?


    1. Hi.
      Yes, it is too hard to get a really good card even in Happy Hours.
      We already have made a test with dozens of packs and there is only one conclusion: don’t buy packs. It is a waste of coins.

  4. Hi!

    Firstly i would like to thank you for this helpful article.I will definitely be more careful when to buy packs.

    Secondly,can i ask if it is a good idea buying packs when a new fifa series,for example,fifa 14 which is coming out?Im am thinking about this because at the start,players will be very expensive and i am not a good trader at all,i depend on coins tottally from playing games.Thank you so much!

    1. Hi.
      We always said that buying packs is not a good strategy. However, if you want to do it, the start of any FIFA it is a good time. You can also buy coins.
      On the first days, Messi costs something like 100-150k coins. Two weaks later he is three times more expensive.

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