Consistently, EA Sports has been overemphasizing new FIFA features that implant more authenticity
to the game, be it ball material science, body development, player knowledge, etc. What’s more,
that remains constant for FIFA 19 — the most recent edition, which came out last September for gaming
platforms including PC, PS4, and Xbox One — too, which guarantees a revised first-touch system and
improved jostling in addition to other things. In the meantime, most game studios are in the matter of
conveying fun, except if you’re making a simulator (For example, for garbage trucks). In that push
and pull, it’s clear that making an entertaining game would win, which clarifies the implausible long
shots in a year ago’s FIFA 18, the duality of gameplay in EA’s only adversary PES 2019, and the move
towards excellent football with FIFA 19.
But, the question stands. Why do people buy FIFA every year?
The Toys in FIFA
It’s pretty straightforward what the main toy in FIFA is – The ball. But, apart from that, a very few people
know that FIFA is more famous for its Ultimate Team (like fantasy teams) feature than the traditional
game where you just kick around with a ball. EA has given players what Pokemon gave a decade ago:
Trading cards. That being said, FIFA uses its toys in a lot of different ways than just the traditional way.
FIFA has a story mode, and it is divided into three different parts which was released in three different years.
It has the famous ‘street’ mode, where you play Football in the streets of beautiful South American
countries. Talking about Ultimate Team, FIFA has created a new form of gambling. People not
only buy/win packs for the best players, but even the best players have varieties in them. With
the level of card, the level of skill increases, and this creates a never-ending chase for such cards.
Up until, the new FIFA comes out and the majority of the fan base moves to the new one, which makes
it pointless for players to go after higher cards anymore because cards DO NOT get carried forward.
With a new version of FIFA, you start over your chase for the best cards in the game. Now, this here
is our first reason to why people buy FIFA every year. To sum it up, it’s basically players participating
in an endless race, which resets every year.
The Significance OF FOOTBALL
Association Football (termed as Soccer in a few countries) is believed to be the most popular sport
on the planet with an estimated 4 billion fans throughout the world, which is more than half of the
people on the entire planet. The sport appreciates a large following, and a worldwide range of
prominence. Ancient Football has been believed to be originated in China, as early as the second century.
The Romans, Greeks, and Japanese have likewise been considered the first players of the game.
Contemporary Football started in England, where it amassed extensive interest and spread to
different parts of the world. The game is more prevalent in Europe and Americas than in some
other landmass. The game is described by two teams of eleven players and two goals. The objective
of the game is to drive a ball into the goal, shielded by the rival group.
The sport has been around for thousands of years and has billions of fans, so it was inevitable that
with the rise of video games, we were gonna see our first Football video game at a very early stage
of video games and so we did! The first football game came out in 1980, published as an arcade
game by Atari, which set the bases for all Football games we see today. But for this article, we’ll be
sticking with EA’s Football games. Out of a total 25 games, we will be looking at every fifth game
FIFA has put out since 1993.
This is how the first FIFA looked when it came out in 1993. It came out for all the major gaming
platforms of that time, as well as, MS-DOS. It was a video game that created one of the earliest full
simulations of football with international matches and real players that were licensed to EA by
FIFA, the governing body of Football. The game has an isometric viewpoint which was
unique for football games at the time which mostly had a birds-eye or a top-down view. The player
controls one of the eleven footballers on their team at a time, with the ability to switch players
and when they possess the ball. This mechanism is something that has remained constant in all
EA games, with ever-improving technology for assisting player-switching in game. Another thing that
has stuck with FIFA games since this game is the ability for up to four human players to play at
the same time, each controlling a different footballer, which can be from the same team or different
team. The remaining footballers are controlled by the AI. EA Signed a five years deal with FIFA which
allowed them to use the real names of the players in their game. After this game, every year a new
FIFA game has come. It has been 26 years since this one and we have seen a total of 25 FIFA games so
far (the last one came out in 2018).
Five years later, FIFA 99 came out. Until then, FIFA had gotten features like different types of skill
plays like bicycle kicks, headers, scissor kick, etc. Along with that, a penalty shootout was added
to help resolve tied matches. The graphics significantly changed in five years, with better
player models and better animations. All individual players looked how they should look,
instead of having the same player model for all the players. The graphic changes were so huge
so that you would be ridiculed to have said ‘It’s the same game every year’. It even introduced
player fouls, bookings and most importantly, commentary from real life football commentators.
With even sharper graphic details, the games from FIFA 2000 to FIFA 2004 were revolutionary.
More importance was given to club matches with EA signing a contract with UEFA, a competition
where the best clubs from leagues all over the world play against each other. The ball physics
was improved with the ball having more realistic inertia. Tier 2 leagues were also introduced
in the game. FIFA 2004 was critically acclaimed. Metacritic gave it 84% and it was a golden era for EA.
Next in the list is FIFA 09. The first FIFA game I personally felt really engaging because I
used to play it for hours with my friends. It was beautiful looking, it had my favorite players as I
had just started watching Football seriously, and by that time, FIFA had a career mode in their
game. Also, Ultimate Team was announced. A game mode exclusive to consoles only, was
something novel in the gameplay, and fans absolutely loved it. It was similar to a team career
mode, but in a more card collection manner, with the ability to use real life money to buy players
in game. This was also the beginning where EA started getting criticized for putting the same game
out every year.
FIFA 14 was the first FIFA game that was developed on EA’s Ignite game engine. The AI was
significantly improved. However, the gameplay, not so much. All other elements of the core
gameplay remained the same. The ball physics improvement was so trivial that it was barely
worth noticing. FIFA was getting sales and high critic ratings, but the general audience did
not understand the reason behind it.
Here we are, in 2019, with the latest FIFA game, FIFA 19. Obviously, the graphics are better
and so is the ball physics, but what if we had skipped all the FIFAs that came out between 14
and 19? Would FIFA 19 be called a legitimate sequel, and not have fans complain about EA
putting out the same game every year? A question to think about. The most absurd thing about
this situation is how critically good FIFA is, but fans are just frustrated that there’s nothing new.
This can clearly be seen with FIFA 19’s Metacritic review which is 83% by critics, with no negative
of a total 752 reviews.
Conclusion: An Ununbiased One
To conclude my post, I am going to address this problem from both perspectives. Let’s jot
down some points on why people buy FIFA every year, and then I will rate it on level of justification
out of five, in my opinion:
1. Already discussed earlier, every year, you create a new ‘Ultimate Team’ which does not get
carried over to the next year so fans are forced to buy. I think this is very unjust, and I will
give it a 1 out of 5 justified.
2. Some people don’t understand how big football is. Hint: It’s really big. People are crazy about
it, people die for it, people kill for it, and people live for it. So, if it’s a matter of a few bucks, people
will pay it, and maybe they would get mad at EA if they skip a year of FIFA game. So, I think this is
a 5 out of 5 justified in EA’s defense.
3. Roster updates are also a big reason for why people buy FIFA every year. However, I never understood
why FIFA couldn’t just roll roster updates for previous years. But again, it made me think that
there’s probably a huge change in the way a player plays. Or sometimes, a totally new player could
rise up in a year who wasn’t a part of the previous edition at all. But then again, I don’t think that
a brand new game is necessary for this. It’s a 3 out of 5 justified.
4. Game modes, gameplay changes, and ball physics – now this one is a bit hard to judge because
even though FIFA does put out such updates every year, you’re far better off buying FIFA games in
an interval of 3 years than 1 year, because of how insignificant the changes are comparatively to
the immediate previous year. But, if we consider three years, the changes look significant, and from
a Game Designer perspective, if I wasn’t money hungry, I’d be most concerned about this than
anything else. So it is definitely unjust for FIFA to feed a naive audience insignificant changes for
a price of $60 or sometimes even more. That’s a 2 out of 5.
5. The Journey – This is a recently introduced story mode from FIFA, which is about a young footballer’s
journey to the top. It was a 3 part story mode, with each part coming out with FIFA 17, 18 and 19
respectively. It was greatly received by users, because the complete play-through added up to about
24 hours. It showed that EA was doing something to add more stuff in. But, was a story mode really
something the fans wanted? What else could EA offer in football game other than football? I think EA is
justified with this, and it’s also commendable to how they put the long parts of the story mode out in just
a year of work. I will give it a 4 out of 5 justified.
Adding up these numbers, we have a total of 15 out of 25, which gives an average of 3 out of 5 on
the level of justification. Clearly, I am more inclined to say that FIFA is justified by putting out
a game every year, but I think there are a lot of ways to improve the way they currently do it. To
actually conclude this post, I will give my best solution to this problem. Make a FIFA game every
three years, and release paid DLC every year. Simple!
But to actually actually conclude this post, let’s celebrate FIFA style!