FIFA 14 marked EA’s football next-gen debut Yet a flashy new engine is only a small part of what the development team has been working on.
Ahead of FIFA 15’s full reveal MCV caught up with EA exec producer David Rutter...
“I want to think about FIFA like a franchise. I want it to be on multiple platforms and have multiple releases. Yes it comes out yearly but it is also going to launch new platforms, it will be a validator for you to buy a new console.”
Those are the words former FIFA producer Bruce McMillian said to EA boss Larry Probst when creating the first FIFA in 1993. It was one of many little stories that didn’t make it into our special feature last year on the birth of the series.
“It’s safe to say that everyone on our team is always going to want to be working on the newest, coolest tech,” says David Rutter, FIFA’s current executive producer who is doing a decent job of living up to McMillian’s original vision for the brand – FIFA 14 was amongst the first big games that helped launch PS4 and Xbox One.
“Wanting to deliver really high quality launch titles is in our DNA. It was in the early days – and remains there now.”
"We are very critical. We were all very happy
with, and proud of, the way FIFA 14 went –
but basically everything that we ended up
feeling wasn’t 100 per cent, it gets
addressed in FIFA 15.”
David Rutter, EA
Yet although McMillian’s original pitch for FIFA still rings true today, EA’s modern vision is far more complicated, incorporating multiple devices, business models and the real world of football.
The most popular modern vision for FIFA has been Ultimate Team. The mode (which incorporates microtransactions) has become a hugely lucrative part of the IP. And over the last year the studio and EA’s marketing department has been putting extra emphasis behind the game mode.
“We made big steps to improving Ultimate Team,” Rutter says. “We’ve also had a lot of fun this year celebrating the fifth anniversary of Ultimate Team by bringing new contests, tournaments and promotions to the mode. We’ve seen 38 per cent more people jump into FUT this year than we did last.”
Ultimate Team is only one small part of the modern FIFA franchise. The game today is available across multiple platforms. There is a mobile game, companion apps, and even FIFA’s PC presence is being overhauled with the launch of FIFA World, a PC free-to-play game that has already attracted 1.5m sign-ups.
And of course there’s consoles. Last year FIFA was still launching on PS2. EA even developed two versions of the game - one for Xbox 360 and PS3 and one for Xbox One and PS4.
Surely there must come a point soon where Rutter and his team look away from the previous generation and focus all its efforts on the new one?
“This year we’re going to town on many aspects that we’ve been somewhat restricted in over recent years,” says Rutter. “For 360 and PS3 we are continuing to invest in the areas of the game that make FIFA what it is to our fans – and that’s gameplay. We’re not slowing down there at all.”
"If Liverpool and Manchester City play a very
big match, we are likely to see that match up
play out more times than any other in FIFA 14
in the build up. Authenticity is always a focus
for us, and I think our fans will be very happy
about what we are bringing to the
table for FIFA 15.”
David Rutter, EA
The final piece of the modern FIFA vision is the real world of football. You can’t watch a Premier League match without seeing EA Sports’ logo in the corner, or on the referee’s shirts.
“Theres a very significant relationship between the real sport and our game,” explains Rutter. “For example, if Liverpool and Manchester City play a very big match, we are likely to see that match up play out more times than any other in FIFA 14 in the build up. Authenticity is always a focus for us, and I think our fans will be very happy about what we are bringing to the table for FIFA 15.”
Ah yes, FIFA 15. The game that will be one of the headlining acts at EA’s E3 showcase. Rutter and his team heavily scrutinise their work. It’s what drives the team to do better with each new title.
“Ha. We are very critical,” concludes Rutter. “We were all very happy with, and proud of, the way FIFA 14 went – but basically everything that we ended up feeling wasn’t 100 per cent, it gets addressed in FIFA 15.”