An illustration of a FIFA video graphic.
Illustration by Olivia Woolfrey, Ringling College of Art and Design

Has EA’s FIFA Fallen From Grace?

The iconic game is currently free to play on PlayStation Plus, something typically reserved for less popular games. Is it all downhill from here for the franchise?

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An illustration of a FIFA video graphic.
Illustration by Olivia Woolfrey, Ringling College of Art and Design

The iconic game is currently free to play on PlayStation Plus, something typically reserved for less popular games. Is it all downhill from here for the franchise?

Over the years, Electronic Arts has become known for producing some of the most popular video games and game series. But with FIFA 22’s inclusion in the June 2022 PlayStation Plus free games selection, some have questioned just how profitable one of their most expansive collections might be.

The History of FIFA

FIFA International Soccer (affectionately known as FIFA 94) was released during the Christmas season of 1993 for Sega Genesis. The game featured only national teams as playable options and used generic player names rather than real ones. One year later, the first “real” FIFA game was released with its trademark real-time 3D graphics.

FIFA 95 introduced club teams from eight different national leagues, appealing to a much wider group of soccer fans but still only including players with generic names. FIFA 96 brought out the FIFA that fans know and love today. First off, the game was playable on the Sega Saturn, PlayStation and PC. Second off, the game featured real players’ names, the positions they played and the team they played for. However, there were some issues with the accuracy of the names, as some team rosters were messed up.

After FIFA 96, the video game franchise started its steady journey to glory as the games started to sport better graphics, more realistic gameplay and more accurate rosters. In the 2000s, the game saw the introduction of “Career Modes,” where gamers can choose to play as an individual player on the victory track or as the manager of a major club. FIFA has become well-known for its online multiplayer mode, FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), where players can collect, trade and create their dream team from the real-life pros.

Electric Arts, through the EA Sports branch, has released a FIFA game every year since it began, making it a rarity in terms of production frequency. And although the game may seem very similar from year to year, the company has continuously made a hefty profit, and the minor adjustments from season to season have been enough to keep fans interested enough to spend the $59.99 every year. 

FIFA vs. PES

In 2020, PES Productions released eFootball PES 2020, a football simulation video game extremely similar to EA’s FIFA. After its premiere, PES Productions and its publisher, Konami, gained a lot of traction as they slowly gained licenses to major teams and leagues such as Juventus F.C., which allowed them to have the exclusive license to superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

PES Productions has released little information about the PES 2022 update, so fans of FIFA still have the upper hand in terms of play modes and league licenses. In the end, FIFA still appears to be the better game in terms of variety, but PES has competed with the graphics and design of the game, which is just one more thing that has been working against EA’s FIFA in the past few years.

May 2022 PS Plus Game

On May 6, PlayStation posted its monthly trailer about the upcoming free games for PlayStation Plus members to download. This service, which started in 2010 but has been required for online play since 2013, gives members exclusive access to three games a month for free. These can be full games or demos, depending on the game’s initial release date and general popularity. Although PlayStation has included some big-name games in their monthly service, FIFA was still a shock to many.

The trailer showed FIFA 22, Tribes of Midgard and Curse of the Dead Gods; all three were full game downloads and offered a nice variety to gamers around the world. However, the inclusion of the massive sports franchise was still surprising. FIFA has been known for years for being one of the most popular sports games that fans can play, with a new release each year that always tried to continue to give fans what they wanted. On top of the game’s inclusion in the free monthly games, PlayStation also released a free downloadable FUT pack for PlayStation gamers, something that fans usually spend money on.

Soccer fans and gamers alike can agree that this was a big but very nice surprise, and if you were a soccer fan who hadn’t already spent your money on the game when it came out, then it was an extremely lucky time for you.

Now, if you aren’t a PlayStation gamer, but chose to go for Microsoft’s Xbox or a PC, then you might still be in luck regarding FIFA 22. Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass has mirrored the PlayStation Plus free games, and vice versa, which means Xbox gamers can expect to see its inclusion relatively soon.

Reception

Although including the major game in the PlayStation Plus subscription was a pleasant surprise, it started to raise some questions among fans about how well the franchise might be doing. In the last two decades, Electronic Arts has seen a steady profit in its annual release of the FIFA games. However, ever since its competitor PES appeared and more fans became fed up with the same game over and over, many have raised questions about whether the franchise is still what it used to be. And FIFA 22 was no stranger to that intensely harsh criticism.

Others have been able to look at the inclusion as a stroke of luck, as many might have missed the purchase of the game this past year. Regardless of whether you are a FIFA fan, seeing a big game such as FIFA 22 can always be seen as an indicator that PlayStation is taking the right steps toward making the PS Plus Membership worthwhile.

Writer Profile

Janey Schmidt

Columbia College Chicago
Bachelor of Arts in English

I have always been an avid reader no matter the format. I am especially eager to read, write, and talk about all things fantasy!

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