The latest FIFA has resulted in a year of ups and downs. EA has hosted numerous eSports events for FIFA 19 compared to its predecessor, and there is no doubt that it is gaining more exposure. However, as an extremely keen FIFA player (albeit not at a pro player level) who has over 1000 FUT games under his belt, I am a strong believer that the FIFA franchise is far from being eSports-ready. Any game that is eSports-ready must tick certain checkboxes. Most importantly, the game must be completely balanced, fun for viewers to watch, should give every gamer a fair opportunity to compete at the highest level (rather than who pays the most money) and finally, must not be riddled with glitches that potentially alter the outcomes of a match.
This article details 50 major issues that I have encountered throughout my FIFA 19 Ultimate Team experience. Not every single issue is specifically within EA’s control, but are still valid reasons why FIFA is not eSports-ready.
1) Matches are all too often decided by who has less button delay. The closer you are to the servers, the smoother your experience. Input lag/unresponsive controller inputs are often the deciding factor between a win or a loss.
2) There is an apparent momentum swing that favours the player who is losing. The losing player tends to win 50-50s more easily, which prevents the player who is winning from controlling the match.
3) The defensive AI is heavily assisted. Quite often the AI will unrealistically block shots on behalf of the defending player. If you place your controller down during a match, it is amazing to see how much the AI defends for you.
4) FIFA Ultimate Team 19 is heavily pay-to-win. If you want to compete at the highest level, you better spend the cash. I’m not talking hundreds, but thousands of USD/EUR/GBP.
5) EA itself doesn’t support its best players. Considering the amount of money that EA makes of this mode alone, you’d expect large cash prizes in official tournaments. As an example, not even the winner of the official ePremier League received a payout.
6) Disconnections in matches are too frequent. To put it into context, even the official tournaments hosted and live-streamed by EA, end up sometimes having disconnects. It makes for very awkward commentary!
7) Goalkeeper movement is simply unacceptable. Although EA has taken measures to reduce the effectiveness, it is still clear that the ability to control goalkeepers is extremely overpowered. There is nothing more frustrating than preparing a perfect attack only for the shot to be saved because the opponent controlled the goalkeeper to move in a very unrealistic manner. People who know nothing about football would think that this were an MC Hammer simulator.
8) Kick-off goals - this is a problem that has been plaguing FIFA for a long time, and still exists. The player who starts play from a kick-off seems to have a clear shift in momentum. This, coupled with the defending gamer being unable to properly control his players, makes for a very frustrating experience when you’ve spent ages working towards going 1-0 up only for the opponent to score immediately from kick-off. Even commentators for official tournaments call these ‘kick-off goals’!
9) 180-degree passing is still a thing - the gameplay at times can be so unrealistic that even players who don’t have high passing stats are able to perfectly execute a one-touch blind pass behind them.
10) EA made FUT 19 more about releasing promos that would make them money, rather than delivering on what its players wanted. As an example, if you count the number of days that EA released a new ‘promo pack’, you’d realise that there were more days where new promo packs were released than there weren’t, thus defeating the whole point of a ‘promo’. In addition, EA had numerous promos which released player cards that were simply ludicrous. With the excuse of celebrating ‘Future Stars’, EA released extremely high rated versions of players that just don’t deserve them at this stage in their careers. In addition, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of FUT, EA released cards of players in ludicrous positions. Releasing a striker Virgil Van Dijk, left back Salah or centre back Lukaku is a mockery of the mode.
11) EA lied about its prime icon cards. Anyone who owned a prime icon card would have expected that they possess the very best version of that icon, hence ‘prime’. However mid-way through FIFA 19, EA released further boosted versions of many of these cards. A lot of gamers had acquired untraceable versions of the prime icons through squad building challenges through an extreme amount of grinding, without knowing that better versions of those cards were going to be released. Surely such decisions is just going to put off people from spending real money in future FIFAs?
12) FIFA 19 started off with extremely broken shooting mechanics, where gamers learned how to almost score every single time with a first time timed-finesse shot from outside of the box. Although this was patched many months down the line, it had already put off many gamers.
13) The crossing mechanics in the game are completely broken. When crossing, it is more likely that you’ll score a header or volley if you cross the ball from an ‘El Tornado’ or flick-up skill move first. The defending AI just doesn’t know how to handle such lofted crosses.
14) Weekend League is still the mode that allows players to earn the best rewards possible for actually playing the game. The problem however is that EA still requires you to play 30 games across three days in order to maximise your rewards. Although this is largely improved compared to FIFA 18 (where it was 40 games), still requiring gamers to play 30 games over the weekend is madness and not beneficial to any gamer’s mental health.
15) Division Rivals is EA’s newest competitive mode that allows gamers to compete against similarly skilled players throughout the week. However, when you get to a high enough skill rating in Division 1 (I am at 2500), it usually takes me close to 15 minutes to find a game. When I do find a game, it’s usually against a player who has practiced how to abuse every single gameplay mechanic. In FIFA 18, Weekend League was the most stressful game mode. This year, it is Division Rivals. I wouldn’t have a problem with this mode if it weren’t for the fact that EA replaced the more traditional online seasons mode with this. Why not keep both? There is literally no casual mode you can play on apart from Online Singles, which is not worth your time due to the terrible latency.
16) Somehow, EA has made a football game that punishes gamers for being in a 1v1 situation. That’s because it is harder to score 1v1s, than it is to score an unrealistic long shot. I appreciate that the FIFA series is not a football simulator, but how is it that shots from inside the box with a player who has 99-rated finishing hit the post more than shots from outside of the box?!
17) One of the ways you could qualify for Weekend League in FIFA 18 was through a knockout tournament. However, FUT 19 doesn’t contain a single tournament mode where you can compete with your own team. The only tournament mode you can compete in is Draft, which requires you to play with a team of randomly picked players.
18) Weekend League stopped having special requirements. It is clear that this is to cater for the pay-to-win players, however it has really dampened the Weekend League experience for me. Why not have a Weekend League where you can’t play with icons, or special cards, or even gold cards? Mixing it up every weekend keeps you matching up against different types of teams and forces you to get better without relying on your God squad.
19) Almost 90% of the pro players use a very specific set of players, and even a higher percentage of that all use the 4-2-3-1 narrow formation. It makes watching the official tournaments extremely boring, as there is little to no variety in the formations, tactics and players that are on the pitch.
20) The player chemistry system is entirely broken, and instead of fixing it, EA glorifies it. Right now, if you cannot fit a hybrid squad into the formation you actually want to play in, you can fit that squad into another formation (usually an attacking 4-5-1), and then the moment the game starts, change it using the custom tactics. Changing the formation mid-game (or even making substitutes) does not recalculate the chemistry. It completely defeats the purpose of the chemistry system if there is such an easy way to get around it.
21) There is a terrible bug in the game that EA still hasn’t fixed, towards the end of the life of FIFA 19, regarding position changes. When gamers genuinely want to make a position change mid-game, for some reason this completely breaks the custom tactics. I once switched my CAM with my RAM and then when I saved the changes, for some reason my centre back was playing striker and my striker as centre back! How can such a bug be in the game for so long without a) any acknowledgement from EA and b) any resolution?
22) Every year EA’s marketing team comes up with a glorified name for a ‘new’ gameplay mechanic that is supposed to make the new FIFA the best in terms of gameplay. This year, they announced the ‘Active Touch System’. Ultimately, the message EA tries to give is that players are going to behave more like their real-life counterparts. However, the truth is far from that. Even in FIFA 19, pace stats are still the most dominant. There is a reason why pro players never use Harry Kane or Romelu Lukaku, even when the game came out.
23) I thought EA listened to the community when they decided to remove the ‘Park the Bus’ option. Yes, it is a real tactic in football, but FIFA is not a game to replicate real football. Unfortunately, EA simply replaced ‘Park the Bus’ with a new option, ‘Drop Back’. In FUT 19, a huge number of gamers will adopt this defensive option simply to allow the AI to carry out the defending for them. There is nothing fun whatsoever about trying to break through a defence of 11 players behind the ball, which isn’t even being controlled by a human.
24) Icons do NOT add value to the game, but only value to EA’s bottom line. Icons are footballing legends who have retired from the sport. FIFA 19 started off with icons such as Maldini, Gullit, R9 Ronaldo and Pele (there are probably close to 40 players in total), with each player having three versions; a baby icon, middle icon and a prime icon. The prime icon is supposed to represent the best possible version of the icon i.e. when the legend was at his primest. My personal opinion however is that the icons have completely ruined FUT. An icon can link to any other player in any league, which makes the chemistry system even more redundant and unimaginative. Most pro players stack their teams with icons. These cards are either extremely difficult to pack, or you need to spend a ton of money to get enough coins to buy them from the market (or via expensive squad builder challenges). To make things even worse, EA angered the community by releasing even better versions of the ‘prime’ icons without letting the community know in advance. People who spent a huge amount of effort or money getting the ‘prime’ versions of their favourite icons, were soon made to realise that their cards weren’t in fact the best versions anymore.
25) Coin selling is still a thing. EA have massively clamped down on people paying real money for coins via coin-selling websites, however this is still an issue. Many of the major Youtubers actively promote these websites in return for a commission.
26) The Weekend League is a representation of a combination of a) who is truly the best at FIFA 19 and b) who has spent the most money on the game. However in FIFA 19, a third category exists, where players have found out ways to ‘dodge’ playing as the away team. This is what many of the pro players do, and even many of the top-viewed content creators of FIFA. The problem is that the truly competitive players only play as the home team, simply to avoid other pro players who are also doing the same thing. There are a handful of EA ‘gamechangers’ who also promote such behaviour, with the excuse that ‘everyone else does it’. This issue makes finding Weekend League games even more difficult, and unless you also dodge playing as the away team, you’re left with an unfair disadvantage of being more likely to be matched up with pro players. EA gamechangers are supposed to lead by example, however this is not the case.
27) Similar to crossing, near post corner kicks are the way to score easy goals. Unrealistically, if you cross with enough power towards the near post with Cristiano Ronaldo or another similarly-gifted player in the air, you’re quite likely to score a header from the tightest of angles. It isn’t pleasant to be on the end of, and it certainly is not fun to watch pro players try and score like that in live streams.
28) FIFA 19 is the year of the skill spam. ‘La Croquetta’ in particular is a skill move that, with very little effort, has your player shuffling the ball from side to side in a way that makes it almost impossible to dive in for a tackle in order to try and win the ball. I have no issues with gamers executing the skill, however when Neymar does 5 in a row followed by two fake shots and then a series of ‘elasticos’, it is absolutely laughable.
29) EA’s answer to recent regulations for declaring odds on packing certain rated players is disgraceful. As an example, for 86+ rated players, instead of giving gamers real odds, they declare packing an 86+ player as ‘Less than 1%’ - or something similar. To make things worse, it is clear that EA purposefully made certain players 86 rated that a) don’t deserve to be such a high rating or b) no gamer wants. The current method of informing gamers of the pack odds is just as useful as not telling gamers in the first place. In Belgium, EA is no longer allowed to sell FIFA points due to the loot-box ban. From FIFA 20 onwards, gamers in Belgium might as well stop playing Ultimate Team as they have no chance against gamers who pay to win. If other countries eventually follow Belgium, EA will need to seriously start reconsidering the Ultimate Team model.
30) One of the biggest reasons why FIFA 19 is not eSports-ready is how the gameplay is incredibly inconsistent, not only between matches but even mid-game. You could be 2-0 up and your players are responding perfectly. However, after a certain point, those same players will suddenly stop responding. They will turn like trucks, they will run out of position, any button inputs would be delayed and their reactions would be non-existent. EA doesn’t admit it, but when the whole community complains about the rubber-banding nature of FIFA, there has to be a case. Pro players have managed to find ways to fight through it, however this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a major problem to be solved. A game that has any form of rubber-banding is simply not eSports-ready.
31) The community is extremely toxic. Most of the time, they are frustrated by how poor the game is, however I have also witnessed that the community largely doesn’t support EA no matter what EA does. The community complains about a lack of promos, and then when the promos do get released, the community complains that they aren’t good enough. Yes, most of the complaints are due to how expensive the new cards are in any promo, however I believe that EA has put itself in a position where it has alienated the community so much, that the people who still play the game are incredibly toxic. An example of this was when EA decided to allow certain ‘trusted’ streamers to carry out Twitch drops throughout a particular promo. Instead of largely backing the streamers, much of the FIFA community rebelled against EA’s decision.
32) A lot of the FUT weekly objectives give gamers the opportunity to gain packs or even certain players. However, those objectives are often extremely tough. As an example, you may need to win a certain number of Rivals games and score with a player of a certain nationality. My main issue with this is that the objectives clearly favour the gamers who are lower ranked. It is tough enough to play Rivals games with your main teams, but when you suddenly have to play with weaker teams against the same opponents (who aren’t necessarily aiming for the objective), you’re at a disadvantage. Many gamers actually rank down just to complete recent objectives.
33) EA will kick you off the game if you ‘act’ like a bot. People who play Ultimate Team a lot get used to how to navigate through the menus quickly and in particular, the transfer market. However, if you carry out actions too quickly, there is a chance you get kicked off and have to validate yourself as a human before you can get back online. I have lost count on how many times this has happened to me on the console. I understand if this were the PC version or even the web-app. Why is this even a thing on the console?
34) Most streamers and pro players lack any personality. Whilst there are some casters (Castro, AA9Skillz, Nepenthez, RunTheFUTMarket etc.) that are enjoyable to watch (personal opinion!), most of the casters do not actually make the game seem any more enjoyable. Most of the community members are loyal to the casters, not the game. The bigger problem is the pro players, who really come across as robots and lifeless when you watch them on stream. Despite this observation however, I don’t fully blame the players. They are attending official EA events and EA will not condone any form of trash talking. ‘Banter’ doesn’t count, as we all see right through it. In addition, pro players are at the mercy of EA, so they can’t even speak out against the game. However, it doesn’t take a genius to witness how even the pro players at events find the game unplayable and laughable at times.
35) EA releases a new FIFA game every year. This means that every year, the reset switch is hit and gamers have to build their teams entirely from scratch. In addition, they have to quickly learn the new ways to exploit the broken gameplay once again. Some of the best eSports games are ones where the gameplay remains the same, but the content gets refreshed. There are exceptions to this rule (e.g. Call of Duty), however even CoD release doesn’t require gamers to spend their life savings on virtual packs every year in order to compete at the top levels.
36) There is simply no variety in game modes. FIFA 19 introduced some incredible game modes e.g. house rules, eliminations. However none of that made it over to FUT 19. Why should it, when it won’t make EA any more money?! Why can’t we even have a 2v2 mode or a Pro Clubs mode somehow incorporated in FUT?
37) The gamechanger program is a hype train. The EA gamechanger program is advertised as something that allows certain members of the community to work with EA to improve the game. Either the gamechangers aren’t doing their jobs, or EA isn’t listening to them. I’d hazard a guess that it’s a bit of both. Many gamechangers are very popular casters, and their job is to make money off FIFA, rather than improve the game. No matter what anyone says, a new pack animation does NOT make the game better.
38) The Frostbite engine is broken in FIFA. This engine was initially introduced in Battlefield, but for some reason EA decided to use it for FIFA. However, too many times in a FIFA match are the laws of physics completely broken. Players’ limbs penetrate each other, the ball bounces off the post in the most unrealistic way, and way too often do player models start flipping around like glitched ragdolls. Considering how much money EA makes, you’d think they would make an engine that is specifically designed for FIFA.
39) Many representatives of EA promised that they were going to be providing a lot more community feedback. They started off well with the use of pitch notes and regular updates. However, very soon after, this completely fell through. We haven’t had a new patch for a very long time, and EA refuses to comment on a lot of the common bugs that have been there from day one. To make matters worse, EA’s recent updates are extremely vague. Whenever any company tells its customers that there is an ‘operational effort’ taking place to help improve the game, I refuse to buy it. This is not EA’s first stab at FIFA. Many of these bugs have plagued the series for years.
40) EA made FUT 19 almost impossible for you to get great players unless you spend real money. Unlike previous FUTs where you could be talented enough to understand trends in the transfer market to buy and sell players, EA has purposefully ensured that they keep complete control of this and ensure that players are not profiting from buying and selling. If you want the best players, either get extremely lucky with a pack or spend a fortune with real money.
41) FIFA 19 brings the absolute worst out of me. I play the game because I love football, however it makes me rage more than any other game has before. The sheer number of issues in the game (many of which have been mentioned in this article) all lead to the widely recognised ‘FIFA rage’ that I suffer from. Yes, I can stop playing the game, however I have invested so much already that I will only stop once FIFA 19 is over. I will not be making the same mistake next year.
42) Not even the pro players enjoy the game! Just watch any of the live events, where even the pro players are often seen shrugging their heads in disbelief of just how glitchy the game is. Most of these players are contractually bound to keep hush about it. Anyone who speaks up will most likely be banned from any future FIFA events. If even the pro players hate the game, what hope do us casuals have?!
43) Radar clashes are still a thing depending on what kits you have. The experienced players on FIFA use the radar to identify where off-screen players are. However, I have had instances where despite wearing a black kit and the opponent wearing white (with a tiny bit of black), the radar shows us both as black. Why not just adopt a system where no matter what the kits are, you are always blue and the opponent red on the radar? The obvious current workaround is to change the kits, however EA often promote and release new kits that I want, but have terrible radar icons.
44) How is it that EA still thinks it is acceptable that the referee can intervene in the game? Although this is not common, there are moments when you might pass the ball only for the referee to block it. This is not a simulator. Why not just make the referee a ghost, or remove him altogether?
45) I mentioned before about the player limbs going through other limbs. What’s even worse is that the ball goes through players! Imagine a situation where you concede a goal that results in a loss, because your opponent shot the ball which actually goes through your goalkeepers hand. Literally, penetrates his hand! This is a common issue and EA conveniently keeps hush about.
46) Imagine a scenario where you either have a God squad (compared to your opponent), or you start off the game completely dominating the play. Your opponent decides that he cannot compete with you, so quits out. The problem? You don’t get the win. You’ll only get the win if you’re actually winning. If it’s a draw and your opponent quits, it doesn’t count as a game, but it still takes away a contract value from your players. Why doesn’t EA give me the win because the opponent decided that he couldn’t handle the pressure?
47) Taking a single touch before releasing the ball is often way too punishing. The fast, high-pressure nature of the game means that the most effective way to attack is to pass and shoot often without a player taking a single second touch. Again, although this is not a football simulator, surely this is a huge problem? The only time someone may keep the ball is when they want to spam the trick stick. The stamina system is way too forgiving. Either slow the game down, or make the stamina bar drain even faster.
48) Price requirements for icon squad builder challenges are off the roof compared to FIFA 18 this time last year. Even towards the tail end of the game, EA is ensuring that people who want to sacrifice their coins and players for the best icons, will have to pay a very high premium to do so.
49) The game really does decide whether you win or lose - there are plenty of videos online showing players with 99 finishing on strong foot and the ball goes away from the net despite the player clearly aiming into the net. In addition, sometimes attackers shoot on their own without any button inputs!
50) EA alienates the community by claiming that they know what the community wants. Recently, EA accused the community as the cause for the final set of icon SBCs and claimed that they wanted to release SBCs that the community can afford, because that’s what the community wanted. This is completely untrue. The community never asked for this, and if EA’s statement were even true (that they want to release SBCs that people can afford), why release SBCs for Gullit and Ronaldo that require a sacrifice of three icons?! Does EA really believe that such SBCs are even affordable? To add salt to the wounds, many of the SBCs are actually more expensive than their market values. This is how out of touch EA has become with their own game. Why not just release Prime Icon and Moment Icon SBCs for the really expensive players and let the gamers decide which ones they want to grind for?
I am sure that EA will make plenty of money on FIFA 20 even if they repeated the same mistakes, only because there are enough community members, pro players and casters who complain a lot, but are not willing to take action. However, EA needs to realise that there are going to be a huge number of players that have been alienated and will not be returning in the same way. It is within the control of EA to eliminate future doubts by a) recognising where they went wrong with FIFA 19, b) taking real community feedback on board and c) finally implementing the hundreds of changes that the community has been wanting for such a long time.