FIFA 19 hasn’t had the smoothest of launches – with its gameplay polarising fans.
But one thing they nearly all agree on is Career Mode – and the lack of love EA has shown towards it.
Sure, we saw interactive transfer negotiations, the introduction of Frostbite-powered cut-scenes and improved presentation in FIFA 18, but this year, EA did very little to build on this (bar the Champions League).
Players asking you to review wages
In older FIFA games (FIFA 12 and FIFA 13) players used to send you – the manager – a message asking for a review of their current salary.
This would happen if the player had been performing very well consistently.
It added a new dimension to the game – a more human element – and let you reward players with the financial boost they deserved.
Adjust ticket prices
This was a really cool addition – allowing you to make ticket prices super low or very expensive.
Obviously this would have a huge impact on attendance – but it was also related to performance.
Should your team be performing well, they’d be a surplus of fans who would pay top dollar to watch them play.
If you’re struggling on the other hand, it would be harder to attract crowds and so reducing the price of tickets would act as an incentive for attendance.
It also affects your total budget – allowing you to spend more money on top players.
Player / Manager career
Yep, in FIFA 13 you could play as both a player and a manager in the same season.
You can buy or sell players, just like a manager, but when it came to match day, you could put yourself in the team – which was a fantastic touch.
Ever wanted to see who the best player was on your team? Well, back in FIFA 13 you could do exactly that.
You could see how many goals they’d scored, their form – every little detail. It made it so much easier to pick the strongest side.
What else do I need to know about FIFA 20?
FIFA 19 could well be the last physical version of the game – as EA has hinted at a move towards a subscription model.
Sales for EA’s football behemoth have fallen 25 per cent year-on-year at retail on launch week. Simply put, more people are buying the game online.
In an interview with Bloomberg last year, EA CEO Andrew Wilson hinted the publisher could move away from an annual release cycle and towards an update and subscriptions model.
“The greatest disruptor to the consumption of entertainment media in the last five years has been the combination of streaming plus subscription,” he said.
“It’s changed the way we watch television. It’s changed the way we listen to music. It’s changed the way I read books.
“There’s a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around — where we may not have to do an annual release. We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.”
Earlier this year, EA’s executive vice president of strategic growth Matt Bilbey elaborated on this statement – saying: “It (streaming) will happen. It’s just a question of when.”
Microsoft recently announced Project xCloud, a new game-streaming service that bring console-quality gaming to devices such as smartphones.
And with Game Pass – a service that allows gamers to play a wide variety of old and new games for a monthly fee – game ‘ownership’ appears to be changing.
Interestingly, EA looks to have already dipped its toes in the water.
Although EA’s Madden NFL Mobile game is now three years old, it’s been continually updated at the start of every season – essentially creating a new game.
The Frostbite engine was tweaked for FIFA 19, but arguably there were only very minor adjustments in animation and visual presentation.
EA Vancouver would have to re-write the entire code altogether to see a dramatic difference – something we can’t see happening for a good few years yet.
This, coupled with a greater number of gamers favouring digital game downloads over physical copies, could well sway EA into ditching boxed copies and releasing a ‘FIFA 20’ patch instead.
This would work by updating rosters, faces and form – much like the patches we’re seeing in FIFA 18’s cycle, only bigger.
GeForce Now – a subscription-based service on the Nvidia Shield – offers a ‘Netflix for Games’, where the unit taps into cloud processing to ‘play’ hundreds of titles.
EA Access, which also uses a subscription model, offers members a chance to trial some of the latest games – as well as play a number of older titles in EA’s portfolio.
It could only be a matter of time before we see a FIFA game using a subscription-based model, rather than a traditional release. The real turning point will be when internet connections and speeds improve.
Some countries are still hampered with poor speeds, meaning a move to online only risks thousands not being able to play the game.
For now we’re certain things won’t change, but watch this space.