For the last decade, EA Sport’s FIFA has been a staple figure in the lives of most footballing fans.
Players might typically hop on for a few games after school or work, with those more dedicated to the cause spending a larger portion of their free-time attempting the Weekend League‘s staggering 40 games.
Only, there’s those who no longer choose to.
Its not for fans growing out of the game or sport. Its not for the frustration of the deluge of dab-ridden celebrations. Its not even due to facing another Premier League side spearheaded by Ahmed Musa. Instead, its because of EA’s continued and repetitious mistakes that show no sign of being resolved any time soon.
My first fifa dab#PS4share pic.twitter.com/NIfUJAG906
— Михаил Ковтун (@imia10) September 14, 2016
FIFA 17 was the pinnacle of the franchise’s online gameplay and competition so far. With huge amounts of money up for grabs for the professionals and opportunities to build the squad of your dreams for those who played more casually, the game offered something for everyone. But therein lay the very problem.
In recent years, FIFA‘s most popular feature has been Ultimate Team – a game mode which grosses the company over £150 million per year. Originally, Ultimate Team matches were dominated and won by the better player. But what about those who weren’t good enough to compete? Who, no matter how hard they tried, could never measure up to their friends or online opponents?
It was upon this basis, that EA manufactured a solution. It wasn’t better matchmaking services or a separate game mode in which inexperienced players could improve their skills, but a version of Ultimate Team which was inclusive to all.
The skill gap was drastically reduced. Top players would find themselves striking the woodwork time and time again, whilst their opponents buried a single opportunity. Some would dominate matches, only to be unravelled by mistakes controlled by the game.
But, surely this is typical of football? – you might say. ‘Its a funny old game’ the platitudinal proverb goes after all, in a sport where David can occasionally bring Goliath to his knees. And we’d agree, the sport is unpredictable. However, no team is ever penalized for being the better side.
When FIFA 18 arrived, it was met with an excitement not seen in years. The demo played in a manner in which opposed the previous norm: the better player would actually come out on top. Games were dictated by the midfield as is typical of the sport and finally lesser-rated players couldn’t command the same influence as world-beaters on the pitch.
The game looked set to be the best FIFA ever. No prioritizing. A balanced playing-field.
But the warning which welcomed players as they loaded up the demo, became a fact upon the full version’s release – ‘Not a final product. May be subject to change’.
And change it did.
Just a week or so after the game hit the shelves, an unusually large one GB update was required in order to continue playing online. With it came the four main problems which so aggravated fans of FIFAs passed:
- Ping-pong football from defence to attack, bypassing the midfield in the process, had returned.
- Automatic defending, achieved by holding down the ‘A’ or ‘X’ button, was back with a vengeance.
- Dominant players were frustrated with shots on target, whilst those struggling were rewarded with goals.
- And finally (and most frustratingly), the skill gap had been all but eradicated.
But why, you may ask, would EA choose to do this? To so enrage their loyal players who inject so much money into their games? Well that’s exactly the answer, it comes down to money.
By levelling the playing field, FIFA‘s current inclusivity has all of its players buying into Ultimate Team, rather than just those who are actually good at the game. Those who shouldn’t win games, do. And as a result, they continue playing and investing in packs in the hope of strengthening their teams.
Some players are good enough to have adapted to the game’s reversion to its old ways. But amongst the vast majority of the FIFA community, outrage is rife:
i hate this fifa so much after the patch, absolute joke for me, almost identical in terms of last year how people are winning undeservedly??
— Taran D (@Tazmania030901) October 6, 2017
I thought FIFA couldn't get any worse than 17 but they've topped it with 18 post patch. ?
— J.Birch (@JakeCruyff) October 13, 2017
Random thought: I think the world's most interesting psychology study would be about the FIFA community after a patch ?
— The Boi (@ChuBoi) October 9, 2017
Its likely little will be done regarding FIFA‘s post-patch upset. Though many players will continue to clamour for refunds, on account of being sold a different product to that which they were promised.
They may well have a case.
The infamous No Man’s Sky was heavily criticised last year for failing to deliver the game that was pre-ordered. So surely, on the same basis, Ea must act quickly to either fix or rectify their most recent, game-breaking patch.