Is FIFA still at the top of its game?

With the final whistle on the end of another football season about to be blown and the World Cup beckoning, FIFA gamers everywhere are sitting on the bench reflecting on the FIFA 18 season and looking ahead to FIFA 19.

While Man City has outclassed competitors to win the Premiership title, many gamers seem to feel that FIFA has struggled to reach peak fitness this season.

Although FIFA fans have welcomed innovations such as the blurring of the lines between the virtual and real worlds, and the introduction of Real Player Motion technology, there is much discussion about whether EA Sports has scored an own goal with its growing focus on competitive game play that leaves only the elite gamers feeling match fit.

Keen to solicit more detailed gamer feedback on FIFA 18 and suggestions for FIFA 19, three leading FIFA influencers – CapgunTom, Homelespenguin and Oakelfish – joined forces to curate a discussion among their audiences on the Qutee data discussion platform. The How To Improve FIFA debate netted almost 500 comments, and covered 79 unique topics and 227 unique sentiments. The five polls garnered a total of over 600 votes.

Kicking off with the polls, just 2% of respondents feel that FIFA should be awarded full points this year; a further 20% give the game 4 out of 5, and the next 45% award it a mid-table ranking.

The vast majority (86%) feel that FIFA 18 has not been good value for money, and the general consensus is that the packs have been bad. The good news is that FIFA fans remain incredibly committed and loyal: 72% say they’ll buy FIFA 19 even if there are no real improvements to the title.

Almost everyone (94%) feels that EA Sports is bad at communicating with the FIFA community. Although a negative response is unsurprising – companies can always do more to keep their fans up to date, after all – the level of negative sentiment might just set alarm bells ringing at FIFA HQ.

Oakelfish adds: “From this poll it’s clear that EA Sports needs to quickly improve its communications with FIFA fans if it is to keep them on side.”

The final poll sees gamers equally split over whether they are playing more this season (36%) or less (37%). Judging by the comments, we can surmise that the more competitive gamers are putting in the additional hours required to succeed at FUT Champions while the more casual and/or time-poor gamers with less interest in the esports push are reducing their hours.

CapgunTom adds: “In recent months some of my viewers have been voicing disappointment in the development of FIFA 18. This Qutee shows that 64% are playing FIFA the same amount or less than previous titles. Hopefully EA Sports will look at this downturn in the player base and rectify the problems with the game.”

Topics that elicited the most fervent comments were FUT Champions (175 comments), FUT Market (133) and Squad Battles (65), with comments indicating that many casual gamers feel pressured into spending too much time on the Weekend League, despite recent changes from EA Sports to reduce the amount of gameplay needed to qualify.

These two comments sum up the feelings of many:

“I really enjoy everything about FIFA except the online gameplay. It is changed and tailored too much, with the 1% of competitive elite gameplay in mind, rather than for the masses that wish to (shock, horror) actually enjoy a game.”

“The main thing for me is modes in ultimate team. I don’t have any time [at the] weekends for FUT Champions… No chance I’m spending that time offline in squad battles, or attempting to win divisions for garbage rewards.”

A lot of gamers suggest extending the period required to complete the Weekend League matches, and propose a better ranking system – similar to the one found in League of Legends.

Looking ahead to what else they’d like to see in FIFA 19, gamers have a number of suggestions:

“I think they should have a random squad building challenge every day – also featuring some of the little used cards. [This] keeps trading going. Also they need more interesting game modes – something fun and a bit less competitive but still online – the old online cups perhaps, or maybe even a proper league format.”

“I would love new tournaments like [they had] in the old FIFA [titles] that only take maybe an hour or so to win a cool card.”

“But [the] main thing is make game play fun and more skill based rather than exploits and learning auto defending etc. I just want to play and if someone else is better, then fair play… Maybe simplifying game play may actually be better here.”

“[Make] FUT more for the players…[Make] FIFA a game for everyone and not only for people that pay to win.”

“A management mode would be good – lots of people like trading and building a team more than sweaty game play.”

Homelespenguin sums up: “This Qutee data discussion has re-enforced what we have been hearing all season – that FIFA 18 is not as good as previous titles. The good news is that these insights can help the FIFA developers to better understand their audience’s needs and get this fantastic franchise back at the top of its game.”

This curated data discussion on Qutee offers a fascinating insight into what FIFA gamers really think about the beautiful game. As EA Sports limbers up for the new season their loyal fans on the digital terraces will be cheering them on, hoping that FIFA 19 is a worthy winner.

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