Who would have imagined that a virtual game, simulating what was once a poor man’s sport, could employ such a blatantly obvious pay-to-win scheme. And have success doing so.
The new season of FIFA Mobile brought with it a lot of hype, as it usually does. But, similar to last season’s rendition, it was ill-justified. The game’s creators felt the need to add levels of sophistication that are completely unnecessary. Not to mention that now they are paying for that by having to fix bug-after-bug. The problems with Season 3 of FIFA Mobile are not simply because of the new changes the developers made, they also stem from a fundamental lack of ethics and a consistent agenda to make you purchase as much as possible.
Two currencies weren’t enough, so they added a third and a fourth
Season 3 features two brand new forms of “currency” – gems and VIP points. The former is now being handed out as reward for completing quests and daily warm-up activities, as well as other things, at multi-variate levels. Gems can be used to purchase packs from the store, as well as purchasing the “VIP Pass” once you reach FIFA Champion (the pinnacle status of VSA game mode). Gems themselves can be purchased using FIFA Points.
As for the VIP points, it’s nothing but a system to determine your VIP rank. Previously, I guess, the paying players did not feel a sense of pride in spending their hard-earned money on this hardly well-thought out mobile game. Or that they were getting their money’s worth from purchases (ironic, isn’t it?).
The VIP rank is simply a loyalty-based rewards system. The more FIFA Points you purchase, the more VIP Points you accrue and the higher your rank. These ranks also unlock offers as you move up through the levels, which are available to purchase with, you guessed it, FIFA Points. I suppose this system is a slight upgrade on the prior model if you’re a pay-to-win type player. However, for those who keep their wallets in their pockets a bit tighter, this creates an extra level of temptation that is hard to ignore.
These two new forms of currencies, though, more than anything else, create two additional levels of sophistication on top of the coins and the FIFA Points. As a game (for reasons good or bad) that is officially licensed by FIFA and UEFA, FIFA Mobile can often be an introduction to the world of soccer for new fans. However, the sport and the game are so radically different in terms of sophistication—soccer is one of the most basic sports out there, the most popular because it’s so simple and easy to understand—that they’re unidentifiable with each other. If FIFA Mobile did not have the licensing from UEFA/FIFA and could not simply make three superstars their cover image, you would have to dig deep to understand that it’s a game revolving around soccer, and not some corporation’s dream for making money.
Gameplay is better
For all the extra levels of complexity added to the game, thank god the developers did not mess too much with the controls. I’m still one of those that chooses to use the classic controls (large fixed joystick, large buttons), and I could immediately notice the difference in gameplay once I got around to playing. For one, the player movement is much more realistic and resembling of the console version of the game. Passes are also not just pinged around, but rather require attention and focus. However, you’ll be glad to know that the fictitious side of the game remains in full force with shooting.
Long shots rarely go wide, often nestling in the top corner if you have above average aim like myself. I have to admit that it’s fun. Finesse shots are also a bit on the unrealistic side, but you’ll definitely enjoy seeing those wild curves on the ball as it just misses the tips of the goalie’s hands. (By the way, from initial impressions, goalies also don’t seem as supernatural as before)
Skill moves, though, are sadly not as effective as before. Last season was the season of rainbows. The season before roulettes were in style. This season, neither are that effective. The best chance of you getting past a defender is by using your own fingers. If I was being asked to compare, though, roulettes are slightly more effective than rainbows since the latter is often stopped by the defender’s head.
Cash-grabbing is apparent
Daily warm-ups now contain ads that you can watch. In addition to the ads you can watch for stamina. And the ad that you can watch for some TOTW points.
Every VSA (versus attack; real-time player-vs-player mode) win now rewards with a pack. The caveat though is that it won’t open immediately, taking up to an hour (if I remember correctly) to open. You can expedite this process with some FIFA Points.
The free pack in the store is, as always, at the end of the queue. And the store is, as always, littered with packs for you to purchase, be it with FIFA Points, gems, coins, or just cold-hard cash.
VSA, like last season, is based on your team’s OVR (an average of the ratings of players in your lineup). It’s nigh-on impossible to beat teams with higher OVR than you. Even a +6 gap in OVR can leave you facing a counter-attack while the other person enjoys a “Great Chance”. This system is so blatantly geared towards pay-to-play players that it’s hilarious to see people argue otherwise. It’s also sad that this game has now become a race to the higher OVR instead of a race to build your “Ultimate Team”. It is also one of the many ways that FIFA Mobile construes from soccer.
In soccer, games always carry unpredictability. Otherwise the financially giant clubs would win every single game against the minnows and the definition of sport would have to be rewritten. But that’s not the case, as Manchester United can testify, and Real Madrid can too, at least so far this season. In FIFA Mobile, though, those giants win all their games. How fun is that?
[Note: Contemplated putting AS Monaco in there as an example, but their fans are all probably dead by now anyways.]
It’s not about your in-game skill, or effort, but rather your ability to either invest (or more accurately, lose) a lot of money into this game or your ability to bring back lessons learned from your college Economics class. Few are able to do the latter, which is why some choose the former, and some, like me, just quit competing.
FIFA Mobile, although an amazing looking game, is too complex for the everyday user looking for a way to spend their time engaged with the world of soccer. The cash-grabbing mania that is there for all to see is understandable to some extent—businesses have to make money—but there has to be a better way for EA to navigate that struggle than by shaping the entire user experience around it. The center of the game should be the same as the fundamental essence of soccer. Instead of making the game about skill, simplicity, and unpredictability, EA has made it hierarchical, sophisticated, and most defiantly predictable.
Still intending to play this game? Check out our post on some of the best trading tips that worked previously.