What2Play: FIFA Ultimate Team
Miloslav Valko / April 13, 2019
( 3 min read )
It is now time for us to plant some daffodils of opinion on the roundabout of our game reviews. "Don't know who the lad saw there. Passing to someone in the crowd, maybe." Said Martin Tyler from the commentary box after I wasted my cross in the 92nd minute while losing 2:1 in FIFA 19 Ultimate Team Weekend League. I wasted my chance to reach TOP 100 in the world on Xbox ONE, AGAIN.
It has been 26 years from the first release of FIFA, and man, what a fantastic journey it has been throughout those years, with still a lot more coming. FIFA enabled football to reach even further than Africa; it reached fat boy's rooms and completely consumed them. An estimated 100 000 000 people play FIFA on regular basis. It is the ultimate bro game. When the party kicks off, it always starts with that 1v1 game of FIFA between the two biggest cocks in the chicken coop. That is how big the game is. It determines your position in society and your loss will be remembered for a long time. My grandad collected medals during the war; I collect FIFA scalps of my friends.
Pay 2 Win
2008 is the year when this game mode was introduced to FIFA. This was the Genesis of the pay to win era. A former buy-a-pack and card collecting game transformed into messy lines of programmers’ code and this is the result. Expensive virtual packs of player cards, from which you can build your squad and challenge players online on horrible servers with a 3 second button delay. But that did not matter at all, because this new game mode was staggering. It was what we all dreamed of. Our own FIFA Ultimate Team.
You would expect that after 10 years things are going better. But the truth is, they do not. FIFA 19 saw a massive decline in sales and the reason was simple. The button delay is still 3 seconds, the servers are made from potatoes and the in-game purchase prices became astronomical. Forums are filled with threads complaining about the fact that EA Sports became a moneymaker rather than the game creator.
It is all about money and how to get it from people's pockets as efficiently as possible. In-game purchases in FIFA Ultimate Team were banned in Belgium recently, as the problems escalated to the level that children were stealing their parents' credit card details and using them to open those packs with a chance of 1:13 000 000 to get that Ronaldo. Meanwhile, middle-aged men were making their childhood dreams come true by having an ultimate card game with the best players that resulted in around 500€ spent on average per user. If a micro transaction for one pack is 20€ it cannot be called micro any more. Not mentioning the extremes of children as young as 13 spending over 40 000€ from their parents’ cards on those packs. And what is worse, the game makes you want to buy those packs, because you can hardly win with a bad team against a 500€ squad filled with Ronaldo and Messi. A conspiration raised in the FIFA community was saying that they are employing psychologists and marketing experts to create an ultimate game model that will rip you off every penny you have. I will not jump to early conclusions, but that’s not how you say thank you to your long-time customers that return every year to purchase your newest FIFA game.
FIFA 20 is coming out in September of 2019 and it has a huge challenge to cope with. With PES being around the corner it is up to EA Sports to decide which direction they want to continue in. Either to make as much money from customers as possible or to go back to that game that everybody loves.
I finished my weekend league with 26 wins from 30 games. In my last game, Alan Shearer scored a lovely chip over David de Gea and that’s when you can hear one of the best in-game commentary lines by Martin Tyler; "And that's why they call him fishy, because he loves the chips!"