It’s no surprise that EA is really pushing the esports angle with FIFA 18. After all, millions of players around the world now play Ultimate Team.
But some fans believe for FIFA 19 to be truly ‘esports ready’, it needs another mode – specifically a ‘spectator’ function.
Other established eSports titles – such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and League of Legends – all allow fans to tune in and watch friends, pros or rivals play matches.
Some gamers even kicked off a thread on the FIFA Reddit in an attempt to convince EA to include it.
One fan wrote: “Imagine if you could watch your friends’ matches, random matches, or even FUT Champs matches from pros. Of course, you’d have to be able to hide your usernames/badges as an option because not everyone will want to be identified. You can even go as far as having the spectator see only 2 different kits.”
Another said: “I’m a pro clubs player and this mode needs spectator mode desperately.”
Nearly every spectator mode has an ‘unhooked’ camera – meaning that viewers can freely zoom in, out and fly around the area with full control.
Perhaps the best example of this can be seen in Battlefield, where fans can essentially ‘direct’ their viewing experience – focusing on troops one minute before flicking to the cockpit of a plane the next.
So, why hasn’t it happened yet?
As Reddit veteran Dr_poplove explains, a spectator mode could reveal game engine inconsistencies and imperfections – a risk EA may not want to take.
“The reality is that that it would expose a lot of problems that we have with animations in physics,” he wrote.
“I’m sure EA wouldn’t want to risk a million more FIFA memes and create a negative response.
“Also there’s the latency issue. Spectators would put more stress on their already shaky servers. However, other games have solved this problem by giving connection priority to the players.
“This means that the spectator doesn’t always get full 1080p quality, the best framerate, and sometimes they’re on a delay. But it’s a minor inconvenience for being able to spectate really.”
It seems, then, that a spectator mode could well be achievable but would require, at the very least, significant investment to ensure servers are up to scratch.
Encouragingly, EA revealed that just such an improvement is taking place, to ensure FIFA Ultimate Team matches are less prone to connectivity issues.
Speaking to Dream Team Gaming, EA SPORTS’ lead gameplay producer Sam Rivera said: “There have been decision in the past about putting servers around the world – and people who are far from the servers will experience some lag.
“So, now what we are doing is that there is a group of people just specifically working on connectivity – and they are working very hard to try and provide the best experience.
“Obviously because of geographical reasons, it’s not easy but we are aware that some people are experiencing bad things – especially with competitive gaming.”
He added: “Even losing one game because of a disconnect could mean you do not qualify for the regionals – so we know that, and are working on it. It’s just technically, it’s hard.”
Who knows, spectator mode could be here sooner than we think.