Another year and another FIFA release day. That’s right, today is the day when hundreds of thousands of school children will be pulling sickies and grown ass men will be booking holiday to play the latest iteration of EA’s biggest cash cow – FIFA 22. Of course I am in no position to make jokes about people rushing out in their droves to purchase this game because I have been that guy for as long as I can remember, but not today. I have no new FIFA review to bring you and as things stand, no desire to go out and purchase the new title. Why is this though? And why now? There are a number of factors why I feel myself becoming delusioned with this franchise and admittedly some of them are very petty while others feel like glaring mistakes that EA seem determined to keep making in an ever changing market.
Firstly, the price. Now I know that EA aren’t going out there and charging more than every other big publisher when it comes to AAA releases but it’s got to a point where football games feel a bit cut off from everything else, and a lot of that is down to what Konami are currently experimenting on with the newly released eFootball 22.
The former Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) franchise has slowly been moving away from annually charging consumers full price for a while now. Last year they opted to openly speak about PES 21 simply being an update on PES 20 and charging players accordingly, asking for less than half the price compared to the previous year. This time around they’ve gone even further by rebranding as eFootball and going full blown free to play. At the time of writing I have yet to play eFootball 22 but I am aware of a few shortcomings given that it’s now a freebie to all players. However that doesn’t stop it from making FIFA 22’s asking price of £60-90 feel nothing short of sickening in comparison. Yes I know FIFA will be a better game, and yes I realise FIFA has more licensing, but for that much money is it really a better option than just playing eFootball with my mates for free and modding a few kits along the way? I don’t think so.
I am definitely not saying that EA should make FIFA free to play, that’s just not realistic despite how much money they’d likely still make from FUT. What I would like to see is either a more revamped pricing structure or much better value for my money. Let’s begin with the former.
The video game market has changed so much over the past decade that it’s become almost unrecognisable to what it was when I first started buying FIFA games back in the stone age. Fluctuating prices depending on the size of a game is now the norm, and aside from the gigantic AAA releases, there is no longer a set price for games. Developers such as Ninja Theory with Hellblade, Ember Lab with the new Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Asobo Studio with A Plague Tale and even EA’s very own Hazelight Studios with games like It Takes Two and A Way Out have shown you can have high quality smaller games at a fair price. Not to say FIFA is small because it isn’t, what it is however is a small update on the previous year. This is no secret and we’ve all known it forever, it’s just that now when you look around it feels more greedier than ever.
Now if there’s no budging and FIFA is to remain at full price for the foreseeable future then it’s time they upped their game, even when it comes to what they supposedly do best.. updates. Its become somewhat accepted that despite the fact we know we’re being ripped off in terms of new features and game modes, at least we have a fully licensed updated game right? Well I don’t even believe that’s guaranteed at this point.
This will differ for most players depending on the team you support or enjoy playing as the most, but speaking as an Aston Villa supporter (farewell to any bluenose readers) I can categorically say that FIFA 22 will not be fully up to date on release and neither has it been for a long time now. Every year without fail I find myself waiting for updates as on day 1 my beloved Villa are guaranteed to be missing at least one new kit and be stuck with a collection of uninspired clay faces. Not to mention a bunch of outdated stats that feel two years behind the players real life form. Ollie Watkins and Matty Cash joined the club well over a year ago for massive fees and have played week in and week out in the Premier League ever since, yet in the new FIFA 22 the pair of them still look like piss poorly created my pro’s made by EA’s work experience lad. Yes I know this sounds trivial but for a game that prides itself on realism, it’s the least I expect.
I should count myself lucky I suppose as at least my team is still in FIFA. They may still have more licensing than eFootball but the amount of teams that have jumped ship is hard to cover up. Some teams are only partially effected like Bayern Munich and Barcelona who are both still in the game, but if you want the full experience of a real life stadium and manager then FIFA, the supposed realistic and fully licensed option, will not be for you. And if you’re unlucky enough to support Juventus, Roma or Atalanta then I’m afraid your team isn’t even in the game full stop. Hell at this point they might as well do away with Serie A in FIFA because it’s far from an authentic experience. Again, this is meant to be the fully licensed option here..
Ah well, at least we can edit and mod the game to include those massive teams again right? Given you can do this in pretty much every other sports game out there including the free to play opposition, this has to be a guaranteed inclusion yeah? Don’t be daft, of course it isn’t. You’ll just have to stick to Piemonte Calcio and pay top dollar for the privilege! I haven’t even got time to dive into the amount of international teams that have also been lost as well as how many months we’ll likely have to wait for any new stadiums that were promised for promoted sides. The point I’m trying to get to is this simply isn’t an up to date fully realistic experience we assume it will be, it hasn’t been for a long while.
As I finish up this article I can’t help but feel fully at peace with not purchasing FIFA today. Will I still end up with the game? Probably. Whether that’s down to a significant price drop later down the line or EA hooking a bother up with a review code again is yet to be seen, but I’ll surely be back on it sooner or later and who knows, maybe I’ll review it and the game will prove me wrong! At least if it’s way later the Villa team might actually be somewhat updated! All I know for certain is that they won’t be getting £70 out of me this year and hopefully others feel the same, because if we all vote with our wallets, they will change the way they do business. Until then, maybe it’s time for an eFootball review.. Watch this space!