With everything that has been going on recently, it seems weird to be thinking about EA’s massive annual September release this early. It’s usually around the time of E3 in June where we first begin getting drip fed information about what we can expect from the next instalment, but with E3 not happening this year and the real-life football season and Euro’s being postponed, how does this effect EA’s normal schedule?
The entire reason FIFA is released in September every year (besides it being perfect timing for Christmas) is that it lines up perfectly with the beginning of the Premier League and EFL seasons which begin late August. As we already know, the current seasons have been thrown into disarray with the current global pandemic and the news we keep hearing is that some way, some how, the current season will conclude. The most likely solution is that the games will be played behind closed doors sometime in the summer, meaning the likelihood of the 2020/21 season starting in August doesn’t look good. So there’s no E3/EA Play event to announce the new game, there’s probably no new season to coincide with the usual release date, so what should EA do?
Any suggestions made need to be taken with a pinch of salt as this pandemic is effecting everyone, including the developers at EA. With that being said, I’m going to look for the silver lining in this situation. The main issue with annualised games is always the same… Players will often complain that the developers don’t have enough time to make big improvements that justify another £50 price tag, and FIFA is definitely no exception to this. So with everything on the planet being either delayed or cancelled, why not FIFA?
Look, hear me out. Not only is this an unconventional year with the seasons being all messed up but we also have next gen consoles on the way. What better time for EA to turn around and say FIFA 21 will not be happening, but FIFA 22 will be back with massive new features and a complete new game engine with the brand new consoles in mind. With everything that is going on and the fact a massive overhaul is something which fans crave, I really couldn’t imagine there being much backlash from the fanbase.
There’s one gigantic Bernabeu sized problem with this idea though and that’s money. In case you’ve been in quarantine for the past ten years, you’ll know that cash flow and business is usually more important to EA than the actual quality of their games, with only the recent Jedi: Fallen Order being the widely agreed exception to this rule. So realistically, although it’s probably the most obvious and sensible option, I just don’t see FIFA 21 not being released sometime this year.
Will it still be in its usual release slot of September though? Personally I think that’s a big ask. Even if they’re already half done with the new game, one of the major selling points of FIFA every year is the licensing. With it looking more and more likely we’ll see a big delay to the start of next season, this also means delays to things such as new kits and transfers – something EA heavily relies on to shift copies. Plus if there’s no football in September, the hype around a new FIFA game definitely won’t be the same as usual. Basically, it all comes down to what the Premier League and EFL decide to do. EA will likely just follow suit.
If I was forced to predict what would happen right now, I’d say we’ll probably see the remaining games of the 19/20 season played out in June and July, with a delayed start to the 20/21 season in October and EA will just simply delay until then, lining up perfectly with both the new season and the new console releases. In an ideal world though, EA would step away from FIFA 21, just update FIFA 20 with new kits and transfers whenever that comes and focus on making their best game to date in FIFA 22. That wont happen but a man can dream though right?Become a Patron!