The Evolution of FIFA
EA Sport’s FIFA game series is undoubtedly the biggest football gaming franchise out there. As of 2018, 260 million copies of the series had been sold, and the game sits in around 10th place in the list of highest-grossing video game franchises.
Despite critics arguing that certain features of the game, such as Ultimate Team, are essentially like gambling with the best online bookies, FIFA has been loved by generations of football gamers…
So, where did it all begin?
The first FIFA game released was dubbed ‘FIFA International Soccer’ and hit the shelves in 1993. It made use of a more realistic camera angle (rather than the bird’s eye view that was generally used in football games at the time) which likened the game to watching real-life football.
In fact, in FIFA’s first release, only national teams featured, and real player names weren’t even used. So, sadly, for players in 1993, there wasn’t any chance to play with Roberto Carlos, Eric Cantona, or cheeky-chappy Paul Gascoigne.
Over the course of the 90s, the franchise would integrate a number of leagues and real player names alongside the enhancement of the game’s 3D graphics. FIFA, as a game, was on the rise and was moving in tune with the modernisation of real-life football itself.
FIFA 97 was the first game to feature commentary, with the now-iconic voices of John Motson and Andy Gray bringing a little more to the ‘matchday’ experience. However, the game still faltered on authenticity, with the American League still entirely made up, and the Brazil squad featuring retired players.
The turn of the millennium saw FIFA become much more realistic…
Sol Campbell was motion captured for the 2000 version of the game alongside Robbie Williams (bizarrely) who would grace players with a rendition of the theme song for the game, ‘It’s Only Us’, in the opening scenes. The fictitious ‘American League’ was replaced by the MLS, and, due to William’s inclusion, his favoured club Port Vale were included alongside some of Europe’s biggest teams in the ‘rest of the world’ section of the game.
In 2001, EA Sports gained licencing to include official club badges in the game, bringing it further to life. In 2005, the beginnings of what would become ‘Career Mode’ emerged. In years to come, this would prove to be a touchy subject for FIFA fans, due to a reluctance from EA to properly improve Career Mode.
Thus, the Football Manager series would begin to capture the imagination of the fans looking for a more realistic and in-depth management experience.
FIFA 10 was arguably the first instalment of the game we know today…
Between FIFA 08 and FIFA 10, the interaction between players, and therefore the smoothness of the playing experience, vastly improved. FIFA 11 saw the formal introduction of Career Mode, with an early version of FIFA’s most popular mode ‘Ultimate Team’ debuting two years previous.
FIFA 12 included a multitude of features designed to increase the intelligence of the AI in the game, and graphics wise, the game was on the up on both the PS3 and XBOX 360 consoles. FIFA 15 included all 20 English Premier League stadia and furthered the new ‘human intelligence’ features that had debuted in FIFA 14 using FIFA’s new game engine, Ignite.
In FIFA 17, EA began using the Frostbite game engine, and introduced a brand-new feature to the game called ‘The Journey’. Players could immerse themselves in the footballing life of the imaginary ‘Alex Hunter’. The Journey was effectively a story mode that allowed players to make decisions as Hunter throughout his career in the game.
FIFA 19 and 20 continued to improve realism, and a huge rise in the number of Ultimate Team players emerged…
Ultimate Team is the ‘card trading’ game mode most loved by FIFA players, allowing users to create their own dream team from a variety of current players and footballing legends. FIFA has come under heavy criticism for the addictiveness of Ultimate Team, inadvertently causing players to spend large amounts of money by purchasing ‘packs’ of cards, in order to beat other players online.
Yet, FIFA remains the number one in terms of licensing from clubs and leagues, although more recently, larger teams have cast their name to FIFA’s main rival, PES (Pro Evolution Soccer). However, you’ll find it difficult to wean any real FIFA fans away from the football simulation giant, and therefore, FIFA’s playing numbers remain higher than ever.
We can’t wait to see what FIFA 2021 will bring!