We all know somebody who plays FIFA. The presence of the game in media has been consistent since its inception and release in 1993. With the upcoming release of FIFA 21 scheduled for October 2020, Gadgets contacted professional Maltese FIFA player Shaun Galea for his take on the development of the game.
Shaun Galea, or Brandsha as is his moniker online, is a professional streamer and FIFA player, ranking 5th in the world last December. When asked about the history of FIFA, he believes much of the game engine has changed it for the worse.
“Before FIFA 17, the game felt well-balanced. Strong players were hard to muscle off the ball, and fast players were difficult to keep up with. The switch to the Frostbite engine made the game look more realistic, but that came at the cost of gameplay.”
Right Car, Wrong Engine
Prior to the introduction of this game engine, FIFA was an arcade-type game, with high-scoring, fast tempo matches where players could score 6 or 8 goals. “I think the game has become more boring, more tactical and less fun. With this comes the frustration of holding out for 90 minutes, only to concede a stupid goal at the end”, says Galea, who applauds the attempt for realism while maintaining his reservations about the future of the game.
“The game before had a higher degree of skill to it, what we call the skill cap.” Galea believes that this skill cap has been decreasing since FIFA 17, and while the game looks more realistic, it certainly doesn’t play that way. “How can an old and slow defender keep up with a pacey striker like Mbappe? It just doesn’t make any sense to true lovers of the sport.”
The Root of All Evil
Setting technical issues aside, EA sports has become notorious for its underhanded methods of almost extorting money from players. “Essentially, the game isn’t only pay to play, it’s play to win,” says Galea, lamenting the lack of an even playing field.
“Players like myself fork out their own money to buy packs, whereas other countries which truly endorse esports allow players to enter into brand deals and obtain sponsorship money to buy packs freely.”
It’s certainly true that there is no luck inherent to spending real money to acquire better players in game. Galea says that this isn’t a matter of chump change either. “These professional players spend thousands in-game, and how are we supposed to keep up with that when the skill level has decreased?” The matter has become so serious that Belgium even banned the purchasing of FIFA points, as they have been recognised as a mode of gambling.
And all this not to mention the fact that the game still experiences serious glitches, bugs and connection issues for online players. “Before FIFA used to listen to the community and release patches and updates consistently, now you’ll be lucky to receive just one.”
It’s a common sentiment amongst many FIFA players. EA seems to value the players in-game experience less and less, instead opting to divert their efforts towards finding new and devious ways to extract money from players.