At it’s Gamescom media briefing yesterday, EA detailed a number of ways in which it’s attempting to innovate with FIFA 16. We already knew that women’s football will be getting a look in this time around, and the publisher is also adding nine new stadiums.
EA also made a lot of noise yesterday about what it calls its attempt to create an “authentic football narrative”, with customizable crowd chants, new sideline celebrations, and an overhauled commentary system that will supposedly “fully immerse you in the story of your club’s season”.
All of these features sound nice, but there’s a few other things EA could do to ensure that FIFA 16 feels like a genuine improvement from last year’s edition. Here’s 5 things we’d like to see in FIFA 16.
A mutual quit option
In past FIFA games, if a game was particularly laggy, you had until the 5th in game minute of the match to quit the game and it would be counted as null and void.
Of course, there were many people who abused this, particularly if they were already 1-0 down within the first 5 minutes, and it has been removed since. However, being made to sit through a game with copious amounts of lag even when the latency bar in the pre-game lobby showed 3 bars, is the absolute worst. It’s frustrating, annoying and, most important of all, takes all the enjoyment out of playing.
If you’re not familiar with playing Seasons mode in FIFA 15 this year, there is a mutual quit button in the pause menu which only lasts for the first 5 in game minutes of the match. Go beyond that, and your only option is to quit and take the loss on your record. If the mutual quit is accepted, you both go on your way without an annoying loss on your record to find a game with a better connection. You get one attempt at asking for a mutual quit, so it can’t be spammed to annoy your opponent into begrudgingly accepting the request either.
So why isn’t this in Ultimate Team? Missing out on a promotion, a title or a cup because of a laggy game which you have little control over isn’t fun. When the option to avoid this is already in the game, why can’t it be implemented into Ultimate Team?
To state its case for inclusion even further, this could also help avoid kit clashes that can accidentally happen.
A true end to the price range/coin selling issue
So let’s address the elephant in the room. To buy players in FIFA you need in game coins. Coins can be earned by playing matches, winning tournaments or season bonuses and selling cards you get by opening packs. You can accelerate this process by buying FIFA Points, which allow you to open packs for a set amount of points and sell the cards within them. However as Ultimate Team has become more popular, an easier, cheaper way to gain coins has become a thorn in EA’s side.
Coin selling has been an issue in Ultimate Team for a few years now, mainly because it’s much cheaper to buy coins from websites to buy your favorite players, than it is to pay for FIFA Points to open packs and hope that you get someone good. These websites aren’t endorsed by EA and you risk the security of your account by buying coins, but that hasn’t stopped many from using the services offered by shady dealers.
If you didn’t know already, the way these coins are generated is that automated accounts enter games and almost immediately disconnect. Instead of registering a loss and no coins gained like you should get for quitting, it manipulates the data sent back to the EA servers to report a win. The account is then awarded the coins that come with a win and eventually the bonus coins from a tournament win or a season bonus.
EA aggressively tried to counteract coin selling in FIFA 15, introducing price ranges so players who have low worth (i.e. bronze and silver rated players) can’t be easily bought by the accounts that accumulate the coins via server manipulation. However, this has led to one of two problems:
- Players becoming extinct, as in not showing up in the transfer market anymore because users think that they should get more coins for selling the player, and:
- Players not selling because the minimum price band of the player is expensive enough for users not to want to pay that much for them.
EA does update the price ranges of players to accommodate for the demand, but the updates need to be a lot more frequent to prevent this from happening as often as it does. To the publisher’s credit, EA has also issued multiple warnings that coin buying is not permitted, and actively bans and resets the accounts of players caught doing so. In addition, EA introduced a cap of how many games per day an account is allowed to play on Ultimate Team.
Unfortunately, these have only been obstacles to coin selling sites – rather than the spelling the end of them.
All in all, the transfer market this year has been somewhat of a debacle. It would be nice to not have to deal with these problems in FIFA 16. Encouragingly, in a Q&A with investors, Blake J. Jorgensen (Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of EA) stated: “We did see better performance of FIFA Ultimate Team than we expected. As you remember, in Q1 we – or last call, Q4 excuse me, we gave some warning that because of the illegitimate coin selling we thought that we would see some slowdown in FIFA Ultimate Team mainly because the actions we take and the new price banding. Much of that will be corrected in the new version of FIFA Ultimate Team that comes out with FIFA 16, and we’re excited about that.”.
Let’s all hope that the new FIFA 16 price banding will fix these issues. With the amount of money some websites make selling coins though, it’s difficult to see that really happening.
Better, more detailed stats for players
In a time where companies like Opta and Prozone are providing elite clubs heavily detailed stats about players, the bog standard appearances, goals, assists, yellow cards and red cards stats shown on Ultimate Team cards are pretty bland.
Now obviously we don’t really need to know that player X runs so many yards during a game – Ultimate Team isn’t that serious. But stats like minutes per goal, minutes per assists, win rate, passing accuracy and average match rating would just improve the overall experience of Ultimate Team. It would also provide greater insight into the players you play well with, and the ones you need to improve.
Stats for goalkeepers and defenders as of now are pretty irrelevant. Unless you play Lionel Messi in goal and run up the pitch with him, it’s doubtful your keepers have any meaningful stats of note aside from appearances made. Showing a percentage of saves made from shots on target for a keeper, or a percentage of tackles won by a defender are just a few ideas where EA could improve their relevance.
Creating online tournaments/leagues with friends
Since the advent of online gaming, one its most exciting features has been being able to play with friends whilst both not strictly having to be in the same room. FIFA Ultimate Team has missed a trick for a while now by not allowing friends to set up their own tournaments/leagues to play each other. Currently in FIFA 15 Ultimate Team, the only option you have to play with friends is by playing Friendly Seasons. Friendly Seasons only tracks the progress of your results versus each individual friend you have who also plays FIFA, and you only need 8 points (the equivalent of 3 games won) to secure a season win before another season starts over.
If EA is worried about players abusing the system for match coins – simply make the league or tournament games give out no coins at all. The ability to compete with your own Ultimate Team against a handful of your friends rather than one at a time will more than compensate a few hundred coins per game.
EA Sports produces quite a few games. With Ultimate Team proving its worth as a great game mode and – not to mention a substantial cash cow – it’s not surprising that the feature has cropped up in EA’s other sports franchises like Madden.
Collections in Madden Ultimate Team takes the concept of collecting cards and uses it to yield rewards for players who commit to doing so. Once you have completed a collection of certain cards, you’ll be rewarded with either coins, or a unique card.
Interestingly, FIFA Ultimate Team has already had a collection book before (pictured), in FIFA 09. Why it hasn’t appeared since is anyone’s guess, but it’s a feature that would be nice to see again. A collection book would add another layer to an already addictive game mode, providing more of a reason to open silver and bronze packs to complete collections.
Disagree or have ideas of your own that you’d like to see in FIFA 16 Ultimate Team? Comment below and let me know! Also, if you’re on the fence about upgrading to the next edition of FIFA, have a gander at the trailer for FIFA 16 below, featuring Pelé.
FIFA 16 will be released on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android and iOS on September 22nd in North America, September 24th in Europe and September 25th in the UK.