Co-founder and lead writer of We Bleed Pixels. Loves fantasy, RPGs and talking about games. Hates horror, multiplayer and not talking about games.
FIFA is a curious game. I can’t think of any other series that sells millions of copies every year, yet at the same time each iteration is heavily criticized by the fans. And perhaps even more curious: FIFA’s most popular game mode (by far), Ultimate Team, also has the most dreaded gameplay in the game. Yet people keep playing it. Even worse: they keep spending extra money on it. For fans like me, that creates a massive problem.
My brief history of FIFA
FIFA 19, the latest iteration in the series, is the first one I’ve skipped since FIFA 12. I played a lot of FIFA in the past. 800+ Pro Clubs matches in FIFA 12, a decade-long career mode in FIFA 13. The latter I played the most over the years, really enjoying it. I re-made Ajax the international powerhouse they once were, brought Shrewsbury to the Premier League, and won Liverpool the league title with Zlatan Ibrahimović up top.
From FIFA 15 to FIFA 17, I played a lot of FUT beside Career Mode as well. I started my first YouTube-channel at the same time, exclusively making FIFA videos. While both were fun for a good while, my enthusiasm eventually began to die out. Career Mode was basically the same every year, and FUT required way more time than I was willing to invest. Near the end of FIFA 17, I wasn’t sure if I should be picking up FIFA 18 when it would release. I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt, which turned out to be a poor decision. Not even halfway through the year, I quit FIFA.
I only quit playing the game though. FIFA remains a big part of the gaming content I watch daily, both on Twitch and YouTube. The Twitch side of content is exclusively FUT, whilst the YouTube content is exclusively Career Mode.There’s two creators I watch in particular: Nick28T and MGH. I link them here, because combined they address the same issues that I’m about to address below.
Why I don’t like FUT
Ultimate Team is by far FIFA’s most popular game mode, and also its biggest cash cow. And that is a big problem for anyone like myself, who doesn’t enjoy the game mode. But before I continue, I’d like to elaborate why I don’t like FUT anymore, so the point of view from which this feature is written is clear.
First, FUT is meant to play online. Or that’s how the mode feels for me at least. There’s options to play against the CPU, but most FUT players play online. Which is not my thing at all, as anyone who even slightly knows me as a gamer will confirm.
Second, FUT requires either time or money. Lots of time or money. If you want to keep up with everyone else as you reach higher divisions of online play, you’ll need high rated, top tier players. And those cost a lot of FUT coins, or you have to be lucky enough to get one in a pack. FUT coins either cost time (to earn by playing matches or by trading), or money (by purchasing packs with FIFA Points, FUT’s premium currency, and selling/discarding the contents). It requires a weekly, but ideally daily commitment to FUT if you want to build a strong team without spending a dime on microtransactions.
Third, the gameplay is dreadful. I haven’t played FUT in a while, but I follow its community close enough to know just about every FUT fan hates its gameplay. Full-time FIFA streamer Nick28T, who generally plays FUT for 8-12 hours a day summarizes the mode’s current state quite perfect: ‘love the content, hate the gameplay’. And as a side note, I really hope developer EA doesn’t consider FIFA a realistic football sim anymore. Watch any gameplay clip from FUT, and you’ll see it doesn’t even remotely resemble actual football.
But here’s my biggest gripe with FUT: it hinders the game modes I do like. Those FIFA Points I mentioned earlier? They’re a gigantic money-maker for EA. In March 2017, GamesIndustry.biz reported that Ultimate Team was worth $800 million in microtransactions. I wasn’t able to find more recent numbers, but it’s safe to say FUT earns EA hundreds of millions every year. And that’s a problem, because that makes EA dedicate pretty much all their resources into FUT, rather than Career Mode or Pro Clubs. With the latter being even more neglected than the first; I’m pretty sure FIFA 19’s Pro Clubs is near identical to the game mode from 5 years ago.
And the reason is simple: Career Mode and Pro Clubs don’t make money anymore after the initial sale of the game. While there are millions of players worldwide who, after spending $60 to $120 on purchasing the game, spend hundreds to sometimes even thousands of dollars on microtransactions as well. And EA is only too happy to provide them with more reasons to purchase FIFA points to spend on packs. Special promos like Team Of The Year (TOTY) and Team Of The Season (TOTS) literally make EA millions in a short time.
Career Mode and Pro Clubs don’t have microtransactions however. And thus there is no reason for EA to significantly improve them. FUT is generating money like crazy after all, and people keep playing it no matter how dreadful the community claims the gameplay is. The community members that love Career Mode and Pro Clubs have been begging EA to massively improve their favorite mode for years, but to no avail. It’s even so bad, that fans are suggesting ways to monetize both game modes to EA, hoping that might convince the developer to give them the attention they deserve.
Imagine. Suggesting ways for a developer to make even more money off of you after buying the game, in the vain hope they’ll improve the game mode you love.
Now I know that Career Mode has seen some new features over the past years, such as weekly training and interactive transfer negotiations. But it’s laughably little compared to all new content coming to FUT each year. FUT Draft, Weekend League, Squad Battles, Squad Building Challenges to name a few. Just watch this video by Career Mode YouTuber MGH, which perfectly compliments my point.
No decent alternative
Honestly, I don’t think FIFA will ever provide the Career Mode I’m looking for as long as EA develops the game. But unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a decent alternative. FIFA’s direct ‘competitor’ PES lacks too many licenses for me to really enjoy the game. Football Manager would be a decent shout, if it weren’t for the fact you can only manage the team. You can’t play the games yourself, just sim and manage your team and tactics.
I’ll just keep hoping Career Mode will someday get the love and attention it deserves. Until then, there’s plenty of other games to keep me busy.