FIFA has been a game that has undoubtedly cornered the soccer video game market. Over the course of well over two decades, EA Sports has successfully fought off competition primarily via the acquisition of lucrative deals with the major soccer organization FIFA, and the relaxation of copyright issues that it fostered. Now, with the utilization of the impressive Frostbite game engine, and face scans of the sport's most coveted players, the franchise looks better than ever.
However, with FIFA rapidly nearing a staggering three decades of consistent annual releases, the maintenance of excitement and variation within the best-selling sports game franchise of all time is becoming a harder and harder task for EA Sports. With many of the more obscure options to change up the annual formula already exhausted, the implementation of crossplay capabilities that are rumored to come with FIFA 23 have been a long time coming within the franchise.
The Success of FIFA on Consoles
The FIFA franchise, along with many sports titles, possesses the increasingly unique characteristic of being games that lend themselves better to console-based gameplay, as opposed to PC. The practical necessity of playing FIFA with a controller has seen the game command a seriously sizable and loyal fanbase across both Xbox and PlayStation consoles, especially over the years.
Also like many sports games, FIFA is justified in releasing a new title every year in order to update the teams and players of world soccer to reflect their contemporary value and skill levels. This fosters an environment in which new teams need to be built with every release of a new title within FIFA's coveted and wildly popular Ultimate Team mode. Ultimate Team is a mode that was introduced all the way back in FIFA 09, and has undoubtedly proven to be EA Sports' most lucrative mode across the whole franchise.
The mode sees players build a team made up of any soccer players from a variety of skill levels and leagues from across the globe, with the goal being to upgrade your team to a point where it includes the best players of past and present. With these different player "cards" coming in a variety of rarities and editions, some serious value is placed on the rarest ones, leading to an intense demand for the best cards the game has to offer. These cards can be potentially found in purchasable in-game packs for FIFA Ultimate Team, with EA Sports making millions in revenue from microtransactions with every annual release of the game.
To maintain this large and lucrative console demographic, EA Sports has implemented a lot of new features in recent titles to stave off tedium and keep things fresh. More recent titles have seen the introduction of drastically more detailed career modes, women's football, street football, and even a fully voice-acted interactive story in FIFA 17 and FIFA 18's "The Journey" mode. With there still being a need for the aging FIFA formula to be shaken up even further, the implementation of crossplay capability, which is rumored to be introduced with FIFA 23, is an increasingly necessary change.
What Crossplay Would Mean for FIFA
The introduction of crossplay capability for FIFA seems to be a wildly beneficial change for the franchise even at face value. The aforementioned large and loyal fanbases of each console are within their own right sizable and active. Merging these respective player bases could give way to a multitude of changes to gameplay possibilities, as well as the sense of community that the franchise commands.
FIFA 22 reportedly has over nine million active players, to give context as to just how large of a player base crossplay capability would be connecting. Not just limited to Xbox and PlayStation, FIFA 22 also enjoys audiences across the Switch, PC, and Stadia.
One of the most exciting things that crossplay capability could allow for is the implementation of online FIFA tournaments, in which players exclusively play against opposition from other platforms. With FIFA already being known for heated rivalries and passionately competitive gameplay, the added dimension of cross-console rivalry would only stoke the flames and feed into the love of bragging rights and serious competition that fans of FIFA's online modes love so much.
In terms of potential rewards for winning or significantly progressing through these tournaments, the possibilities are rich. Players could receive kits, badges, stadium customizers, or even special cards for FIFA Ultimate Team that are thematically matching to the platform of their choice. Communal milestone challenges for each console playerbase could provide added incentive to engage and progress in these tournaments.
Pro Clubs Competitions
Of all the game modes, none quite lend themselves as well to crossplay capabilities within FIFA than Pro Clubs. A game mode that, at full capacity, sees 11 players on each team controlling a single position, Pro Clubs has always been a mode that breeds competition via the organization that is required, as well as the sheer amount of people that can be involved in a single match.
Should crossplay capability be introduced in the upcoming FIFA 23, it would be likely that Pro Clubs could increase dramatically in substance and relevance, despite already being one of the most popular aspects of the online FIFA formula and its gameplay. The most obvious addition that crossplay could provide to Pro Clubs is the introduction of crossplay-specific leagues, in which one platform's playerbase are pitted against another. Statistics of win percentages and other gameplay factors for each console could be openly displayed and accessed, giving tangible and empirical evidence as to which platform's playerbase is performing the most consistently.
This necessity of good performances and competition, whilst helping settle age-old questions of which playerbase is the most skilled, could be one of the many ways crossplay could make the next FIFA title incredible.
FIFA 22 is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.