I have been a loyal customer of EA Sports’ FIFA for many years, playing every yearly release of the game since FIFA 07, on friend’s PlayStations, my own, and even occasionally in video library vibandas. For me, playing FIFA is part of the whole culture and lifestyle of being a fan, in addition to:

  • buying knockoff Arsenal jerseys,
  • streaming football matches,
  • paying for satellite TV purely for the football,
  • reading fanzines and football website news on a daily basis,
  • visiting stadiums once in a while
  • And listening to football podcasts such as arsecast, guardian football weekly and many more.

However, for the first time, I am considering forfeiting purchasing the FIFA 19 which is due to be released on September 28th 2018. This is not a decision I am taking lightly. Managing a team from the lower leagues (almost always Sunderland) up to the top of Europe by hard work, scouting, developing my youth academy, tactics and playing hundreds of matches is something I take great pride in. The feeling I feel watching a player in real life that I have made into a superstar is one that is virtually unbeatable.

However, it seems that my interests and EA Sports’ interests are diverging. Even after reading this awesome Dream Team preview of FIFA 19, I am not excited. No longer do I feel the excitement playing Career Mode that I felt before, maybe it is due to age catching up with me, but more likely I don’t feel that EA Sports is putting enough effort into the game, especially the Career Mode, that it put in the past. This WhatCulture.com review of Career Mode summarises my worries about “things to be worried about on FIFA 19 Beta”:

  1. The transfer negotiations remain the same (that annoying music, plus the option to just delegate to the assistant manager)
  2. Big teams can buy whoever they want
  3. The transfer Hub is unchanged from FIFA 18.
  4. it is hard to be motivated past season 5 with no new challenges
  5. changes done on gameplay feel cosmetic

Although the FIFA 19 is going to finally have the UEFA Champions League, together with new commentary, all these changes feel cosmetic. It is almost like EA Sports is investing more into the online aspect, with FIFA Ultimate Team and e-sports, at the expense of the career mode which is more of an offline pursuit. It is hard to shake the feeling that the future of FIFA as a game is moving away from the isolated gamer playing the manager mode alone, towards a future where e-sports tournaments, sponsored gamers, and online gaming through FIFA ultimate team are central.

Where does this leave those career mode diehards such as me? I think the choices are clear: invest in a proper monthly data plan that allows you to play online with other gamers or keep playing a career mode that isn’t half as enjoyable or satisfying as it used to be in the past. I will also be researching on the Football Manager game that the likes of Iain Macintosh play on the excellent website thesetpieces.com, as the each of playing a manager is one that I think has to be scratched, one way or the other.

Maybe, after over ten years of faithful playing of FIFA’s manager mode, it is time to move on to other things.