Of course I like video games. I am an adult male who spent my adolescence in the glorious heyday of Sega Genesis, N64, Dreamcast, Super Nintendo, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, hell, even the Nintendo Virtual Boy. If you’re next question/assumption is that I am good at video games, the joke is on you. I’m terrible at video games.
I don’t react quickly enough, I button mash under extreme duress. It’s more than that, I have so significantly reduced the number and types of games that I play that I now can recite the full list of games I play in less than two seconds: FIFA (occasionally PES, because the gameplay has always been far superior) and NBA2K. Done. Full list. I watched my buddy play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on his projection screen and got nauseous and had to go home and lie down.
Beside winnowing down my collection of games that I pay real money for, I also lack one other key ingredient in modern video gaming success: I don’t play online. This probably goes back to me sucking so hard at video games that people don’t even want to be my friend in real life. Some acquaintances invited my wife and I over to their place many years ago. The husband was excited because he knew I was a complete FIFA nerd. He was into it, but never had anyone to join him in the experience of online soccer gaming. Long story short, we got shut out repeatedly, absolutely destroyed by our opponents, and that couple never talked to me again. I was so bad at playing FIFA online that people IRL dropped my dead weight to the curb. The only other online gaming memories I have include once going on a 30-kill streak in Call of Duty because my buddy let me use his very good player and I sprinted with a knife for the entire match, stabbing my way to glory, AND being so bad at Halo that I eventually just started blowing myself up with a rocket launcher. That pretty much sums it up.
If we look a little deeper, I also think it’s insane to pay real money for an online gaming experience linked to a game I paid real money for on a gaming console that I also paid real money for that is connected to internet that I also paid real money for. I think my point is that owning the required technical components to even get to the stage where you’re playing a video are quite expensive, to then say that I need to take an even bigger leap to pay to play online is bananas to me. Also, as I write this, I’m not even sure you have to pay to play online!
This has all been a wonderful moment of disclosure, sure, but the header is about FIFA 20 specifically. I know it’s coming out soon. I know it’s going to be $60 again. I know that they’re going to keep doing this very stupid Alex Hunter storyline. I know that FUT and online matches are going to soar and be a massive revenue generator. That’s all fine because, frankly, I don’t play any of that. It could be amazing, it could suck, I don’t care. Sadly, I also think I know what’s coming with the offline version: More of the same extremely flawed gameplay that’s just good enough to keep playing, but not good enough that you feel great about it.
EA Sports knows that there isn’t any money to be made off the boring old guy like myself who pays for the game and then retreats into Career Mode as both Manager and Player. They’ve already sold me the product and I’m not spending more money. It doesn’t make sense then, to devote time and effort into making that offline product that generates zero supplemental revenue into a stellar product. Hell, if they did a good job with it, it might actually hurt their revenue as other people might be tempted to spend more time digging into the career mode. I also suspect that there are only 58 people, myself include, around the world that are playing FIFA 19 and eventually will play FIFA 20 that won’t be playing online. I will be the only one of those 58 with access to reliable high-speed internet.
That’s what it boils down to. Where does Electronic Arts stand to make the most money and where are video games going? Not offline in standard single-player game modes is a satisfactory answer for both queries.
There are some glaring heaps of trash that have persisted for several years of Career Mode (while we keep getting flashy new online and Alex Hunter features) that seem like they should be very simple fixes, so I’ve made short list.
1. Set Contract Limits in Player Career
How is this not a thing by the year 2019? Somehow, the game will allow you to request a transfer and eventually get your way, but when you’re sold, there is no limit to the number of years you play with that team. It will just go on until your career is done and never once allow you to become a free agent or negotiate a new contract.
2. Give Freedom to Choose Team in Player Career
This coincides with a big part of the first issue that needs to be fixed. You end up marooned on a team in perpetuity unless you successfully request a transfer. But then you have no say in where you go or what the terms of the deal would be. If you signed a contract with Valencia and then seven years later wanted to move on, you’d have to sit around hoping that a Barcelona, Manchester City or Bayern might approach you. At no point do you get to negotiate with a club on personal terms and decide you want to play with Ajax or Porto or Napoli. You only get to choose from the teams that the game offers up and if you’re good - rated anything like 87 or higher - you’ll only have the very biggest clubs in the game pursuing you. So not only did you never renew your contract with Valencia, you’re also only getting offers from two or three clubs on the entire game so you don’t get to go play anywhere else on the entire game and it is extremely limiting which absolutely kills the fun factor very early on, unless you choose to not train and make your player good. Cool options, EA.
3. Why Does Money Exist?
Manager Mode or Player Mode, why does it matter? They offer you a wage, you except. You never get the money, you never have anything to spend it on, and you don’t get to negotiate the sum. It’s absolutely ridiculous that you don’t get a length of your contract, have such limited options for teams to join, and then they pay you a sum that bears no relevance on your virtual existence.
Part of why this is so frustrating is that in Manager Mode, there are contract lengths and you do have to negotiate over salary, which makes sense! You can also scour the entire globe and every player that exists in the game looking for who you want to add to your squad. Yeah, if you’re in Player Mode, all of this is completely gone. It’s pretty trash that Player Mode is so poorly designed and hasn’t been meaningfully reworked in what feels like half a decade.
4. Don’t Limit Manager Mode Team Options
This is at least better than Player Mode. The game offers you a range of teams in a range of countries, but it is still based on your level of prestige, a factor that should not exist because it takes the fun out of the game. Honestly, if I just won the French league with PSG for the eighth consecutive season and I decide I want to coach another team, I should be able to decide if I want to FC Augsburg or Celtic, not just have offers from Real Madrid, Juventus, and Liverpool. It’s too heavily weighted and extremely limiting. Building a team with salary constraints and existing rosters and revenue is a fun challenge. If you want to switch from a PSG to a Dynamo Dresden, that should be your call since it’s your career and you bought the game.
5. Fix Contract Negotiations
This basically came up in my Player Mode criticisms, but it’s very true in Manager Mode, too. I offered a player a signing bonus literally 10 times as much as he was asking and the game had him respond by begrudgingly accepting the offer because it wasn’t set up to understand that I was giving the player a much better deal.
The bulk of the major issues I find with the game lie on the player end, but most of the criticism works to point out that both offline career modes in the past several years of the FIFA series have all failed miserably to develop the best gaming experience possible and it’s extremely transparent that the reasoning for this is that they are focused solely on whatever drives more revenue via online gameplay.
This is the most bizarre and pointless thing I’ve written in a long time. If you hated it, I don’t blame you and you shouldn’t blame me. Blame EA Sports for doing a pathetic job of putting out the best possible FIFA product.