The biggest football franchise returns with a reboot of its flamboyant spin-off series. We look at what tricks it has up its sleeve.
We all know how powerful the FIFA brand is, and now it’s about to grow even further.
The football games have sold over 100m units worldwide to date, and last year’s FIFA 12 is now the UK’s best-selling sports title of all time. Its week one sales stood at 3.2m worldwide and 1m in the UK alone – if that doesn’t illustrate the strong demand for football titles in the UK, we don’t know what does.
Plus, those sales figures don’t take into account the incredibly lucrative free-to-play-style Ultimate Team online mode, which generates EA an additional $100m per year.
And the publisher doesn’t want to rest on its laurels. It’s releasing FIFA Street this month – the fourth in its spin-off series. This is a five-a-side version of the footy sim which places a stronger emphasis on ball skills. Basically, it’s FIFA for show-offs.
But don’t mistake this as a release only for elite FIFA fans or hardened gamers. The dedicated fanbase will still enjoy it of course, but EA hopes its cool, flashier style will help it pull in non-gaming football fans, casual gamers and also players of the rival Pro Evolution Soccer game series from Konami.
FIFA Street boasts over 50 new tricks, from heel chops to juggling flicks and a move where the player gets down on all fours and rolls the ball into the net with his head.
The World Tour mode allows users to create their own football star and compete in tournaments around the world. Of course, there are real teams and players in-game, with some of the biggest English, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, French, US and other clubs available.
There are over 35 venues in the game, from Shanghai skyscrapers to the sunny streets of Rio de Janeiro and concrete London pitches. Players can take part in a variety of modes, from five-a-side to online head-to-head seasons and Panna, which awards users points for passing the ball through their opponent’s legs.
Street uses the latest popular FIFA engine, and has been developed by acclaimed FIFA 12 studio EA Canada, giving it the high quality football that gamers have come to expect.
EA kicks off big year for FIFA
Street marks the first big FIFA console release of 2012. It’s going to be a massive year for the beautiful game, with FIFA Football already out on PlayStation Vita, FIFA 13 released later this year and a UEFA European 2012 Championship tournament tie-in expected in the summer.
FC Barcelona ace Lionel Messi is the cover star for FIFA Street, after he moved away from Pro Evolution Soccer to front the FIFA franchise going forwards. EA has also promoted the title heavily online, with YouTube ads and a demo which launched on February 28th.
What is street football?
“It’s not just a game, it’s a dance.” These are the words of a real-life street football player used to describe the game, which is simply football played in urban or street-based environments. Participants often use walls for goals and concrete courts for pitches.
'How we rebuilt FIFA Street'
The game’s creative director Gary Paterson tells MCV about the challenges of resurrecting the franchise and who it will appeal to.
“One of the things we noticed with the original FIFA Street and its cartoony appearance was that it polarised people,” he says. “With the new game, we want to try and appeal to as many people as possible.
“We wanted to stay true to our core FIFA values and obviously we have learned a lot from the design side while making FIFA over the past four years. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.
“Authentic street football seems right to us. We wanted to make the skill-based gaming as strong as possible, while also maintaining that approachability.
“We’re targeting people who are interested in football or those on the fringe of being FIFA gamers who might see FIFA as a bit intimidating at the moment.
“We’re also hopeful that maybe the last remaining hardcore group of PES players will be interested in this game. We can use FIFA Street as a way to introduce them into the EA Sports family of video games.
“We also still hope there are core FIFA gamers out there who’d be interested in this just for a different FIFA experience, a different football experience, or maybe they just want to express themselves more because they love the skill moves.”