I grew up playing FIFA, since the first version (’94); mostly because I didn’t had a PlayStation to play WE, although I played some Superstar Soccer in SNES and N64 (its grandfather). FIFA did not used to be the most realistic soccer game, but it was somehow fun to play, once you ignored some critical flaws.
Then the year 2008 came, and with it, the first result of an internal revolution on the FIFA franchise. That came felt so fresh, so authentic, so powerful, that it barely resembled a FIFA game more than on its name. But it was awesome anyway. I first started playing it on my PC, then on a PS3.
From FIFA 08 to FIFA 12, where the competition with WE was still fierce, the game evolved on key features: movement, ball control, player personality and behavior, and team response. To many (myself included), FIFA 12 is still the best soccer game ever released, with a brilliant ballance between simulation and fun.
After that, with a clear dominance over WE, FIFA started fine-tuning the game, more than improving it. At first it looked nice because the game really needed adjustments to better fit the new soccer order that teams like FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund was defining globally. But it was not enough. A game iteration can never, EVER be justified by simply redoing an already good job. That’s what WE always did, and led them to be stick to the past like they’re in the last years.
I recently bought FIFA 16, mostly because of the women soccer mode and the expectation that my team would be back to the game (which didn’t happened). And if the 15 version did not let it clear enough, the latest iteration gives a clear message that EA is completely fat and lazy at the top of the hill, indifferent to everything the community claims as being revelant or necessary.
And if that was not enough, recently there were that ridiculous, coward EA situation: they released a game with a much more realistic game pace and behavior. They were pressed by pace-abusive users, which spend most of the FUT money buying players, and then EA forced a first update bringing a FIFA 15-like fast paced experience. Users blamed on EA forums, many was banned for that (!!!), and after that problem, they forced a new update, with a slightly faster game than the original FIFA 16 experience (which you can still try playing the demo).
Summing it up, my thought is: how can a game developer change its stance based on whoever screams the most? How valuable is the original game vision to them? The fact that they couldn’t take the stance and say “sorry folks, but that’s our vision for this year’s game” just shows how less interested they are on making a good game than making profit over it. They could simply solve it by adding a new option, where the users can pick the pace they want to play, just like they set up control type and difficulty level on online matches and never complained about it.
Then, I can only see that wave that crushed WE supremacy coming over EA. It looks like they can’t learn from others’ mistakes, but that’s not the problem. The point is that the game’s direction board simply define to cut effort and not changing a “winning formula” – forgettig that change was the key of that. Just take a look on their press notes from now until FIFA 17 release, and see the difference between their words and the final release. Just like WE did before.
What comes next? I don’t know…. PES 16 don’t seem inspiring to me as a leading path to overcome FIFA, but rumors says that 2K is developing their own soccer game, to be released next year. If they manage to do something similar to what they did with 2K Basketball, there’s an interesting future ahead. If not…. let’s sit on the shore and watch the waves coming and going.