The State of FIFA 18, Ultimate Team, EA Sports and Its Relationship with FIFA’s Community

First of all, I am one of the biggest fans of EA Sports’ football franchise, FIFA. Not only do I watch as much football as I can, whether it is the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, the Spanish La Liga or another obscure league with crazy derbies like the Turkish league, but I invest myself in the world of football and FIFA. I play FUT Champions regularly and reach Gold 1 and Gold 2 consistently, so this is by no means a complain from a below average player. In fact, it is the cry of a passionate football fan and FIFA player.

Football is a way of life and whoever watches football regularly and supports a club, knows how much it means to see your team lift the league title at the end of the season, except if you are a Liverpool fan, or be crowned the champions of Europe if they win the UEFA Champions League. All these are unforgettable moments for football fans, but unfortunately, the “beautiful game” isn’t that pretty in video game form.

Whoever played the last few iterations of FIFA or is a member of the game’s Reddit community, will know exactly the problems I am going to discuss already. Since the introduction of Ultimate Team, EA has slowly shifted their entire focus towards the mode and started neglecting other modes within the title. But just when exactly was Ultimate Team implemented? There was a brief period of two years where EA Sports owned the rights for the UEFA Champions League competition, now owned by Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series. During those two years, the studio released a standalone “UEFA Champions League 2006–2007” game, which allowed users to assemble a team full of their favourite players. You could obtain these players through opening packs.

FIFA 2009 is where players got to see the real introduction of Ultimate Team as a new mode. The concept in itself was very attractive, especially to people who used to collect Panini stickers and trade with their friends to complete their collection. The idea kicked off right away and performed tremendously, gathering a wide YouTube audience and football lovers who want to play with their favourite players on one team. As years passed by, one by one, EA Sports starting adding new features, updating card designs, revamping the UI and sometimes even adding new modes after release, such as the FIFA 2014’s World Cup Ultimate Team mode.

However, in FIFA 17 and FIFA 18, the main issue lies in the game’s broken gameplay mechanics, unstable servers, illogical ball physics and mind-boggling refereeing. In FIFA 17, several of these issues were raised, but since it was the first year of FUT Champions, a new competitive mode where players can qualify to regional and international tournaments according to how many wins they manage to accumulate from the available 40 matches every weekend, that’s why it is dubbed the Weekend League. One of FIFA 17’s main issues were inconsistent servers, disconnecting players from matches and giving them a loss for the match even though once you are kicked, you are sent back to the game’s menus and they are completely. Another issue raised was the irregular ball bounces where no matter how many times you tackle the player, it always falls back to the opposition.

This year is no different, unfortunately. FIFA 18 is the first iteration of the franchise I have played in years where I can finish a match with both teams scoring more than 15 goals combined. That’s just not normal and never happens in the world of football. Once the kick off whistle blows, prepare yourself to see your team standing around and doing nothing while the opposition runs casually through your team and scores on the first minute. Now it’s your turn to kick off and pull it back. You kick off and score the equaliser in the exact same way, and the cycle continues until one of you manages to break it. The problem is not just in the kick off boosted goals, some of them are the player’s fault of course, but when Tottenham Hotspur’s Son scores a 360 no-scope longshot from 35 yards out, what can I do about that really? When you consider EA Sports’ recent focus in switching FIFA into a competitive eSport with millions of dollars on the line, everything has to be adjusted to completely remove RNG elements to allow for a level playing field.

One thing we all have to take into consideration is how passionate FIFA fans want to play a good, balanced and stable FIFA game. EA recently received massive backlash concerning Star Wars Battlefront II and their microtransaction-focused multiplayer progression system, making one of the game’s developer’s comment, the most disliked comment in Reddit’s history. As a result, EA had to remove microtransactions from the game until a later date, and as of the time of writing, they haven’t been implemented back yet. Now imagine the reaction if the FIFA community came together and decided to boycott buying FIFA points.

With all due respect to Star Wars Battlefront II players, but FIFA definitely brings in more microtransaction revenue to EA than Battlefront. The recent #FixFIFA movement should be a wakeup call to EA, with players starting petitions, encouraging people to boycott buying packs during promotions and tweeting the hashtag to EA Sports’ twitter and reaching top ten trending in the world. However, due to the lack of real competition from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer in terms of providing an in-depth online mode and the continuous stream of money going to EA, why would they fix anything?

Note: Article opinions are expressed by the author.