EA isn’t exactly the most popular company, especially when it comes to FIFA, but there have been exceptions over the years. With significant help from Respawn they’ve helped publish and maintain the beloved Titanfall franchise, Jedi Fallen Order, and Apex Legends – one of the biggest multiplayer games on the planet. They own Bioware, who in turn have pumped out both Mass Effect and Dragon Age – two franchises adored by fans and appreciated by neutrals. They’re the publishing team behind Battlefield, one of the highest polish FPS franchises on the market. But when it comes to sports games, EA put many feet wrong. The latest example – the FIFA 22 next gen upgrade – is daylight robbery, at best.
See FIFA is one of, if not THE most popular sports video game franchise on the planet. I don’t exactly have EA’s statistics to hand of course, but FIFA alone makes them literally billions every year. This is mostly down to the microtransactions found within the most popular mode called Ultimate Team, but it also pushes millions of individual game sales every year. Football (not soccer) is the most popular sport on the planet, and EA almost entirely owns the video game market for it. With a little push back from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer of course.
This market dominance and profit margin is one of the many reasons FIFA is so highly and regularly criticised, and the latest development in EA’s pursuit to strip our wallets is the FIFA 22 next gen upgrade.
Here’s the gist:
- The ‘Standard Edition’ costs £59.99, but will not include the FIFA 22 next gen upgrade.
- The ‘Ultimate Edition’ costs £89.99 but WILL include the FIFA 22 next gen upgrade.
- The Series/ PS5 only ‘Standard Edition’ costs £69.99.
A couple of things to note here before we move onto the issue at hand. FIFA 22 will, amongst other iterative improvements, feature something called “HyperMotion” gameplay. This new movement system will apparently combine a form of machine learning with real life motion capture to make in-game players move in a more realistic and natural fashion.
The official description for the motion capture reads as this:
“Xsens suits record every touch, tackle, sprint and duel from all 22 players playing at high intensity for the first time ever, capturing data that powers over 4000 new animations in FIFA 22 to raise the footballing intensity, responsiveness, and physicality of every player in the game.”
And the description for the machine learning reads as this:
“A cutting-edge proprietary machine learning algorithm learns from over 8.7 million frames of advanced match capture, then writes new animations in real time to create organic football realism across a variety of interactions on the pitch.”
The kicker is that these features are exclusive to the Series consoles and PS5, which is most likely down to the simple fact that they’re more powerful than the PS4 and Xbox One variants. I want to make one thing very clear before I start ranting mindlessly:
I don’t mind companies charging for a next-gen upgrade, assuming it’s not extortionate.
Now, assuming that ‘HyperMotion’ is as advanced as EA makes it sound – something I have my doubts about anyway – I don’t mind them charging something for the FIFA 22 next-gen upgrade. But an extra £30, totalling at £90? Really? I’m not okay with that, and neither should you be. Spider-Man Remastered charged less than that, and featured wholesale changes to the visuals throughout. Control Ultimate Edition – a ripoff all in itself for £30 – featured all the expansions, a new 60fps mode, and jaw dropping ray tracing implementation.
To make matters worse, if the FIFA 22 next gen upgrade follows the same path as the FIFA 21 version – which was entirely free by the way – then you won’t even be able to play with people across generations. This seems likely given the gameplay enhancements, so if you’re lucky enough to buy a new console then you won’t be able to play with your buddies on the older console generation.
(outside of installing the old version instead, in which case what’s the point?)
It gets worse believe it or not. PC players – on a platform that can be the most powerful by far – don’t get the HyperMotion improvements and are stuck buying the older version. I’d love for an EA representative to explain THAT logic to me but for now I’ll just assume it’s in part due to the smaller player base on PC, and in part down to sheer laziness.
According to an article by Eurogamer, it was like this on PCs in the past to keep minimum specs as low as possible – quoting ‘inclusiveness’ as the reason. Whatever helps them sleep, I guess.
Now, to be fair, the Ultimate Edition does include 4600 ‘FIFA Points’ – Ultimate Team’s microtransaction currency – which tallies up at around £32’s worth of ‘packs’. But what if someone is buying it for Career Mode? To play Pro Clubs with their buddies? Hell, what if someone doesn’t care about spending FIFA Points in FUT? Then the 4600 points means nothing.
The inclusion of these points in the FIFA 22 next gen upgrade is smoke and mirrors in order for EA to charge more for it. FIFA Points cost nothing for EA to provide, they’re a meaningless virtual currency that doesn’t really have any real world value in the long term. Myself, and I’d wager many others, would just prefer to NOT have the points, and pay the £70.
Well, preferably not £70 specifically as that’s pretty extortionate, but you get my point. EA and FIFA have made decent strides in recent years and months to round out the football sim as a product. Improvements and enhancements to peripheral modes, the ability to preview the contents of their loot boxes before purchase, and more besides.
It’s not like EA are an indie or AA publisher after all, they’re one of the biggest video game companies on the planet, responsible for multiple high profit, high quality franchises. It’s not like charging a ‘totally normal and not scammy price’ for the FIFA 22 next gen upgrade will hurt their bottom line.
The worst thing? The fact that this isn’t a surprise in the slightest. Infuriating and concerning, sure, but not a surprise. It’s actually perfectly on track with the public perception of EA. It’s just a perception I was hoping they’d shake in the coming years, as legislation closes on their lucrative FUT business and they’re forced to focus their attention elsewhere. I guess I’ll be kept waiting a little longer for EA to not be entirely disappointing.
Anyway, sorry if you have to buy the Ultimate Edition, I’ve heard Minecraft is pretty good?
I’ve been playing video games in some form or another for nearly two decades. My favourite campaign of all time is Halo: Combat Evolved and my favourite multiplayer of all time is Overwatch, with a dash of Halo 3. Huge lover of everything gaming, no matter the platform or source, and I enjoy a story driven campaign like nothing else!