Is 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil one football game too many?

We sit down with FIFA producer Matt Prior to discuss the merits of EA Sports releasing a second football game in six months.

With every annual release of EA's FIFA series there's one obvious, but legitimate, question that is kicked into play more than any other: 'do we need another one of these?' With gameplay and game mode alterations that only the most hardened of subscribers ever recognise, is EA justified in releasing tweaked editions of what is essentially the same game every annum?

Over the next few months, in the run-up to the release of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, that question takes on greater meaning. Released worldwide this April, this officially licensed digital recreation of July's World Cup will become the second full-price FIFA title to launch in six and half months, following FIFA 14's release in September last year.

To try and understand the value for the consumer in having so many FIFA titles available in such a short amount of time, we sat down with 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil producer Matt Prior to get his take on what makes his upcoming game worthwhile.

"We want returning FIFA players to really have a different experience from what they're used to," explains Prior when told that I already own FIFA 14 and am curious as to how World Cup represents genuine progression, "which is why we've changed the gameplay more than we ever have for an 'event' title in the past. It's a full and feature-rich game that taps in on the passion and atmosphere of the World Cup... we're the only game that provides that.

"From a gameplay standpoint, we're the best game out there when we launch because we've taken FIFA but made improvements to it. We're really a standard FIFA plus a whole lot more development on top, so if you want the 'cutting edge' game then that's what this is."

Seeing as World Cup Brazil's release is being limited to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it's difficult not to take the 'cutting edge' claim without a pinch of salt. Getting first-hand experience of the game in action is a chance for me to be impressed by the new player animations (mainly concerned with fanciful passes and flicks) and the ability to use another player's back as a springboard to jump higher during headers, but I leave without definite assurance that the physics model here is superior to that used in next-gen editions of FIFA 14.

"We want returning FIFA players to really have a different experience from what they're used to."

Little doubt exists that World Cup Brazil represents the pinnacle of World Cup-specific games so far, however, and Prior is keen to promote exactly that as a key reason for FIFA 14 owners to invest in the series again so soon after the series' latest release.

"There's also a lot of content that you can't get in other FIFA games: the 203 national teams, the authentic World Cup stadiums, and the general sense of atmosphere we've built around this to match the actual World Cup," exudes a genuinely passionate Prior.

"It really is the most immersive atmosphere we've had. A typical FIFA can't focus in on one particular area as it has to cover so many different leagues - they don't have the luxury of concentrating on making one tournament as true a representation as possible, but that's what we've done."

For the indoctrinated football obsessive, myself included, Prior is right to suggest that digitally recreating the atmosphere of the sport's most iconic and important event is enough to attract players. Trying to mimic what we're going to be watching on television this summer within the boundaries of FIFA 14--without the official branding, kits, stadiums and samba music--would feel like a comparatively hollow endeavour.

The obvious question then becomes, how worthwhile are these 'event' games following the end of the tournament in question?

"People play them a lot after the tournament is finished," is Prior's response. "For the last one [2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa] people were playing a couple of years after the end of the World Cup, and we keep all the online servers running to allow them to play multiplayer over that time." It might be worth remembering, however, that EA shut down the servers for its 2010 World Cup game back in December 2011.

"I think the popularity remains because there are a massive amount of people that only buy the World Cup games. For those people, the World Cup is the only time that they're genuinely interested in football and so it's the only football game they buy."

"We were in production at the same time as FIFA 14, so it's a completely different team."

For the casual FIFA fan, those tempted to indulge in a World Cup edition but not the 'primary' releases, these extra-curricular releases do seem to represent value for money. Whether or not that's the case for regular buyers is less clear and will likely be determined by how much time you spend playing World Cup games, rather than watching World Cup games, while the real tournament is being played.

Despite the comparatively short amount of time separating the release of this game from that of FIFA 14, Prior is keen to leave me in no doubt that World Cup Brazil featured anything other than full developer support.

"No. We were in production at the same time as FIFA 14, so it's a completely different team," Prior bluntly responds to my question of whether or not the FIFA 14 team was rushed into creating World Cup Brazil following the former's completion. "September or October 2012 we started [development], so we've been working on it for 16 months or whatever it is now."

"It's a full team as well, it's the equivalent [size] of the team that worked on FIFA 14 - it's not just a few people altering an existing game. You couldn't make a game that's as feature-rich as this one without a full team. It takes just too much effort."

With such a 'feature-rich' game, it's tempting to see World Cup Brazil as a test bed for FIFA 15--a relatively low-risk means of experimenting with new features and judging relevant player response.

"I wouldn't say that we're using the game as a test bed," Prior tells me. "We're an evolution of the most recent game engine, so, yeah, anything we do would naturally roll into future editions of the game engine and the series.

"Obviously, the caveat to that is that we'll be monitoring player feedback. If we hear that there are things people really don't like about the game--and I would be surprised if that's the case--then we would certainly look at that and re-evaluate whether or not to continue doing it. Much of what we've done was driven by feedback we received from FIFA 14, so we do listen to what players are saying."

Aside from the in-match animations and player abilities, much of World Cup Brazil's feature list is populated by game modes and presentation enhancements. 'Story of Finals' is one of the more interesting elements, a mode in which you attempt to mimic or better events that have happened in the real World Cup. Brazil play Croatia in the opening game of the tournament, for example, a game which might see tournament poster-boy Neymar score a hat-trick--a feat that Story of Finals might task you with equally. These scenarios are promised to be made available within an hour of the match in question coming to a close.

What value, however, does a mode such as this retain once the World Cup has ended and England have definitely lifted the trophy?

Speaking to Prior, it's clear that a lot of work has gone into making World Cup Brazil a game that represents value for money and, as a standalone proposition, it probably will provide a worthwhile amount of content. If, however, you're part of the regular FIFA crowd and have not long ago ploughed your cash into FIFA 14, then World Cup Brazil is not a standalone proposition--it's the second full-priced FIFA game in half a year.

The seriousness of your World Cup fever, then, will determine whether or not you decide to double up on FIFA this year.

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42 comments
FBohler
FBohler

I call bullshit on Matt Prior for conflicting statements. One time he tell us there was a whole team working focused on World Cup since 2012 so it's a totally different animal, and then he says the game features the latest engine with some improvements. If it's the latest engine, gameplay oriented work was only possible around Q3 2013. I wonder what this "whole team" was doing there since 2012.

chemicalegypt
chemicalegypt

The main problem here is EA has one too many licenses creating the monopoly in the soccer\football market. If only there was another developer, say 2k doing worldcups we would have footy game at a whole different level. Us footy fan get the same level of stuff the NBA 14 has, and not to mention the handicap and scripting crawling all over the game making you feel in no control whatsoever. Im not surprised to see EA nominated as one of the worst company again.

SirFiddler
SirFiddler

60 bucks and no next gen…thanks ea but no thanks…those "add ons " have never been that great. some new commentary, a few new celebrations and that was really it. and the squads were never updated. i did buy them in the past for the euro and the world cup and don't remember ever having to pay that much … for 20 bucks, maybe i would get the ps3 out again but for 60 ? not really


DoctorMontalban
DoctorMontalban

It's great this content exists, but it should be available as a $10 - $15 piece of DLC for FIFA 14 owners or $25 - $30 as standalone product. You can argue for higher price ranges, but it shouldn't be a full-priced title.

HIT3kNology
HIT3kNology

Unless all the qualified teams are playable then it's safe to say that this is not 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Hiliary
Hiliary

Greed. This is all this is. Flood the market and this is what destroys it.

MondasM
MondasM

ea sports, i reckon it would be a better idea to improve the fifa title on the ps4 and xbox one, since this year's iteration did not seem to have added anything more than some cosmetic improvements of the stadiums and spectators... the total size of the installation file on ps4 was about 11 gb, what gives???

deadpen
deadpen

don't see the problem.... I mean if CoD can re-release the same game every year (BO 1, 2 then you have MW 1, 2 ,3, 4 oops I mean ghost) then this shouldn't be a big surprise. All this crap is nothing more than a $10 download at best, really it should be a free update for buying so much of their crap over the years.

Shantmaster_K
Shantmaster_K

They have been releasing them every World Cup so why is it a big deal now? 

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Honestly, there's something about the World Cup that often makes people who don't give a stuff about football at a league level feel like playing the game. So for them this might be the only footy game they buy every four years.

snake3rules
snake3rules

i usually only buy the world cup games, because they do have awesome atmosphere and presentation... I really hope they release this on ps4.

HideYoKids
HideYoKids

i'll buy it. I always go soccer crazy during the world cup. 


ECH71
ECH71

One SOCCER game too many. Remember Robertson, you're writing for Gamespot, a U.S. gaming news site.

chocolate1325
chocolate1325

FIFA is just as bad as COD not much difference at all in terms of games just updated player stats and stuff. Surely DLC could be used for each year but no EA is greedy and wants your $50 every year.

MigzBR
MigzBR

The world cup versions are very awesome. And I would buy it if there was a next gen version.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

Another EA scam to feed their cash cow.  EA could have easily done World Cup $15 DLC for ALL platforms for FIFA 14.  But instead they'll charge $60 bucks for a reheat with World Cup slapped on the cover that soccer fanatics won't be able to resist like a crackhead.

West123
West123

uk game charts always has a fifa game on it all year round.... that's why 

dipdish
dipdish

You call it "soccer", we call it love. We'll buy this game. 

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

FIFA is what I call a good filler game.. Something you play between others games just to kill time with... I don't touch it when I have alternatives 

omar_q
omar_q

I can't stand sports games besides the NBA 2k series now that it has myplayer mode. 

krystyla
krystyla

I am European but FIFA is just boring. 

ziproy
ziproy

There should be one of these per generation and that should be that. There's no reason for you people to just keep buying these games

pongley
pongley

Is it just me or does that not look like the Ignite engine? The shirts look like they're made of plastic.

salmon71
salmon71

@HIT3kNology  

for what I understand, this game would have almost all of the national teams playable.  So you can choose any team to go through either the qualification or just the World Cup to win it.

FBohler
FBohler

@Carpetfluff  You're absolutely right. Here in Brazil those people actually get to play football when the World Cup is going on. It is a very powerfull event for sure. Even crime rate is lower in this period!

Fitcherman
Fitcherman

@chocolate1325 DLC would actually be worse for those of us who do not have FIFA 14.  If it was DLC I would have to buy FIFA 14 plus the DLC just to experience the World Cup part.  No thanks.

Fitcherman
Fitcherman

@ohjtbehaaave So if I buy this game because I enjoy qualifying for and playing through the World Cup, it's like I am addicted to drugs?

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@krystyla  Being European doesn't force you to like FIFA any more than being American forces you to care about Madden. Or being Indian would force you to like Harjeet Brar Bajakhana's Kabaddi. If that were a real thing, Which it's not. 

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@ziproy  That was never going to work when this last gen dragged out so long that it's spanned 3 World Cups.

Fitcherman
Fitcherman

@ziproy It's only every four years.  And there is a reason, I enjoy the games.  What do you buy your games?

salmon71
salmon71

@Fitcherman @chocolate1325  

You either have to buy FIFA14 for the soccer seasons/leagues in many countries AND this stand alone World Cup game to be able to enjoy ALL soccer in 2014.  And that is the problem!  The game, FIFA14 should include the option to create the Cup tournament, which allows gamers (i.e. us) to create World Cup (and whatever cup you want) and DLC should just for the updated national kits (uniforms) for the World Cup or update the all the national kits for that matter.  Instead you have to buy a whole new game!

I like the piece below:

World Cup Brazil featured anything other than full developer support.

"No. We were in production at the same time as FIFA 14, so it's a completely different team," 

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

@Fitcherman @ohjtbehaaave  You're addicted to paying $60 for the same soccer game every 6 to 12 months is the point.  And EA knows you can't resist passing up the new version every year… like a crack addiction.  You're not alone though.  EA could have easily given you all this World Cup stuff you enjoy through $15 DLC for FIFA 14.

salmon71
salmon71

@Fitcherman @ohjtbehaaave 

don't you buy the European Cup versions, which was couple years after the World Cup versions? So that makes EA releases very similar 2 games a year every two years!

Fitcherman
Fitcherman

@ohjtbehaaave @Fitcherman If that's what they enjoy, more power to them.  But to compare buying a video game to a crack addition is a bit ridiculous.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

@Fitcherman @ohjtbehaaave  Trust me… you're in the very small MINORITY of soccer fans who only buy the EA World Cup game every 4 years.  Most buy the newest FIFA the minute it releases.

Fitcherman
Fitcherman

@ohjtbehaaave I haven't bought a FIFA game since FIFA World Cup 2010.  That is 4 years not 6 to 12 months.  You compare buying a game every four years to a crack addiction?  DLC would be worse because I would have to buy FIFA 14 plus the DLC just to experience the World Cup part of the game.  Don't post about what you don't understand.