For the past month I have been working part time in a retail video game store in the United Kingdom. The two most frequent questions I am asked there are: “When is Fifa 14 coming out?” And “Which is better, Xbox One or PlayStation 4.” The latter is now answered by the former for the vast majority of European customers.
For those of you unaware, Fifa is to Europe what Madden is to America. People will buy a gaming console just to play a new Fifa game every year. Now you tell them if they buy the next gaming console they will get that brand spanking new Fifa game for FREE, if they pre-order, then there’s no longer a debate. The three consistently best selling franchises in Europe seem to be: Call of Duty, Minecraft and Fifa. Activision has always had strong allegiances with Microsoft through Call of Duty and until recently, playing Minecraft on a console meant having an Xbox 360. So the only remaining franchise Xbox had to really team up with in order to dominate the strongly PlayStation market of Europe, was Fifa. Now, after a decade, they have finally done it.
Fifa is the perfect game for casual gamers. It offers a small contained experience with exhibition matches for 20 minute sessions. It also offers long, rewarding game modes through leagues, cups and Ultimate team. It’s fun by yourself, with friends on the couch, with friends online and with strangers online. Football (Soccer) is a language to billions of people that doesn’t need words. you just play. So playing together with people you haven’t met before doesn’t feel alien. You can play Fifa once a day, everyday and feel satisfied or sink hundreds of hours perfecting your team that you brought up through the leagues. Most importantly, it doesn’t force commitment out of the player.
What’s interesting to note is that EA, especially EA Sports are notoriously unbiased and do not share allegiance to one camp or the other (Microsoft or Sony). How much did Microsoft offer EA in order to secure this deal? It must have been a lot. Fifa consistently sells millions of copies in days in Europe. To potentially give away millions of copies for free through pre-orders means Microsoft must have paid them more than the profits they would’ve seen through sales.
While most IGN readers are tuned in and understand the confusion that is Microsoft’s reversals, the majority of the public just want the easiest access to their 2/3 favourite games, i.e Fifa/Madden and Call of Duty. From my personal experience it seems that most people didn’t notice Microsoft change their policies or even what their policies were in the first place. The key deciding factors will be: “Which of the two consoles are my friends buying? Which is better for Call of Duty multiplayer and which is giving me Fifa 14 free when I pre-order?”
While this doesn’t mean Playstation 4‘s Fifa 14 experience will be inferior in any particular way, the word’s “free with” ring strong in buyers ears.You then add they will also have exclusive Ultimate Team Legends on the Xbox and you seal the deal. Xbox One owners won’t care about the DRM blunder orthe misinformation about the Kinnect 2.0 in a couple of years but they will not forget the reason they have this shiny new console in their living room. They got they’re favourite game, which they were going to buy anyway, free.
Playstation 4 has been leading pre-order sales pretty much world-wide, until now. Unless Sony drops a couple of bombshells in the next couple of months, specifically at TGS such as a well-priced Vita/PS4 bundle or the mythical The Last Guardian release, I see the tides changing in Europe towards Xbox’s favour.
The Cursed Bird-Dog from Team Ico’s The Last Guardian
If nothing else this makes things far more interesting in the next-generation console race. Your move Sony.