FIFA: What’s Next For The Franchise?

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Every year EA Sports releases a multitude of titles that allow gamers around the world to fulfill their dream of becoming a professional athlete. Games like Madden, and NHL were available since the late 80’s and early 90’s, however, FIFA has always stood tall above them all. Yes Madden has outsold FIFA over the past few years as much as 2 to 1, nonetheless, such results were only achieved within the border of the United States of America. 

National Football League is without a doubt an extremely popular and profitable business venture. Unlike overseas football it has repeatedly failed to spread its appeal outside of the US. With competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, and the Club World Cup, soccer has gained armies of faithful fans around the world due to the international appeal of the sport. During the 2010’s World Cup final it was viewed by over 909 million people around the world, whereas the Super Bowl 2014 was only viewed by 111.5 million. (Beutlerink).

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The dominance of Soccer over American Football doesn’t only apply to television. In 2013/2014 EA have only sold 4.6 million copies of Madden 25, whereas FIFA 14, the in-house competitor, has managed to sell spectacular amount of 13.9 million copies. Dominance of FIFA as a franchise can be beneficial, as with increased customer base EA have improved online support available for the title, however, some see the dominance as the worst possible curse. 

Every year when new iteration of the FIFA franchise is announced, the keyboard warriors take to arms, and flood various internet websites with their discontent and rage against the developer and publisher. Year in, year out we all witness the same course of events. When the first gameplay material is published, the most vocal, and the most committed members of the online infrastructure voice their negativity on lack of innovation and similarity between the new and the past games in the series. This can take months, literally. No matter where you go, there will always be someone who swears on everything he/she holds dear that this year, they will not succumb to EA’s tentacles of greed, but when the time comes, and the game is released, FIFA breaks another record in terms of sales.

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As we’re approaching E3, I can assure you that this year, the story will not be any different. We’ll still get the usual announcement during the EA’s conference. A bog standard cinematic trailer that will show off a few of the most popular players, and such will be followed by a small portions of in-game footage, over which the ‘fans’ will go into turmoil of dissatisfaction and ultimately despair. 

With the usual knowledge in mind, there are still many unknowns. Over the past few months, rumors were circling around most media outlets that EA are ready to release a new FIFA Street, as it is now been three years since the last one was published. However, a question has to be asked.

Do we really need another FIFA Street?

Undoubtedly, there many who would rejoice knowing that another FIFA Street is coming, however the game itself was never a success. Financially falling behind every single other game from EA’s catalogue, it was quickly forgotten on every occasion. And maybe it is time to finally put it to rest. FIFA Street had its shot, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that spin-offs of the franchise will disappear completely. There are many other games that could be developed in its stead.

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FIFA 97 was released 19 years ago, archaic in its execution and design, had one thing that no other iteration had (except for FIFA 98). Indoor Football. It may seem like a small feature, but it turned the structure of the game on its head. The large in size fields changed into small indoor stadiums, and the outfield elevens turned into teams of five. With less surface to cover, the pace increased dramatically, turning at times boring encounters into ecstatic battles for goals.

The indoor mode could possibly be reintroduced again just as an additional feature for upcoming FIFA 16, but if handled properly could be turned into a game of its own. Similar games were already made for NHL and NBA, so I don’t see why same couldn’t be done for FIFA. A digital only release would be a much more appealing prospect for both publishers and developers, as lower cost of development would result in a lower retail price, which ultimately would further popularize the franchise as more people would be willing to enter it at the lower financial threshold.

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