While everyone focuses one of EA's other hundred controversies, the fans of its single largest franchise appear to be in open revolt.
Heading into Thanksgiving and Black Friday—traditionally a period when many latecomers buy into FIFA—social media is awash with complaints about FIFA 18.
Fans have been pushing a #fixFIFA hashtag where they've vented about everything from input delays to server problems to the dreaded Kickoff Glitch—a bug that makes it almost comically easy to score a goal off a kickoff.
@EASPORTSFIFA Please fix the game you have broken after the october patch! The initial FIFA 18 was amazing and only needed some small retouches. Read this excellent Reddit post. #FixFIFAhttps://t.co/TaCRV6u88R— David Gonzalez (@thorz74) November 23, 2017
@EASPORTSFIFA @EAHelp will do something with the voice of the fifa community, or are you just interested in continuing to generate money without caring about the bad gameplay, connection and the player #fixfifa— Hector Gallardo (@gallarh) November 22, 2017
More than 12,000 players have signed a petition asking FIFA to fix a laundry list of problems. Prominent FIFA Youtubers like Ovvy have also weighed in on the drama.
To top it all off, our sister site Eurogamer recently broke down the grueling grind of Weekend League—a high-level Ultimate Team league that requires you to play dozens of games in a single weekend. Players want more time to be able to complete their games.
These are all separate complaints, but they highlight a burgeoning frustration with what was once one of the most lauded sports games in the industry.
FIFA 18's Failings Are Nothing New
Unfortunately for EA, FIFA 18 may be a case of trying to fix what wasn't already broken.
At launch, many FIFA 18 fans lauded the speed and pace of the gameplay. They complained about the weak goalkeeping and overpowered longshots, but otherwise felt that it was in an overall good place.
That changed following FIFA 18's first major patch. Following the update, many players complained that the pace of play was much slower; scoring was harder, and everything was slower. It became derisively known as FIFA 17.2—a callback to last year's widely derided balance problems.
Other patches have followed since then, but they've failed to address FIFA 18's core problems. As a result, the community has become increasingly frustrated. And now, with Black Friday just around the corner and still no progress to be found, some are going as far as to call for a boycott of FIFA Points to try and send EA a message.
Unfortunately for EA, frustrations with FIFA's balance is nothing new. Since the dawn of the current generation, fans have become increasingly vocal about the problems with the gameplay, which tends to favor pace at the expense of intelligent defense. Often, fixing one problem causes a half dozen more to crop up in their place.
Last year's transition to the Frostbite Engine proved to be a fraught one for the franchise, bringing with it widespread complaints of input lag and sluggish gameplay.
It's a far cry from the days of FIFA 10, when FIFA finally emerged as a sports game giant and starting averaging 90s on Metacritic. FIFA 18 is making more money than ever, but it's no longer the critical darling it once was.
How FIFA 18 Can Get Back on Track
More than ever, FIFA needs to get back to basics.
Features like Squad Challenges are impressive, but they don't mean much when the gameplay on the field is broken. EA needs to focus all of their attention on getting the game back to a good place.
To this point, EA's response has been inadequate. Despite multiple updates designed to address FIFA 18's basic gameplay issues, there's been very little progress since October. Why this is the case is the subject of pure speculation, but it's clear that something isn't working.
EA would do well to remember where the foundation of their success lies. FIFA is one of the most popular games in the world not because of Ultimate Team, but because it's the ultimate couch multiplayer game. PES is deeper, but FIFA is more accessible and fun. In the end, if the gameplay is compromised, then nothing else matters.
So while FIFA 18's sales will no doubt be strong in the short-term just based on FIFA's immense casual fanbase, nothing lasts forever. Without a firm foundation built upon good gameplay, FIFA's entire Ultimate Team empire will eventually come crashing down.
With that, It's time for EA to refocus on what matters. They can start by fixing the Kickoff Glitch.
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