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FIFA12: Out Of The Traps

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At this time of the year getting any kind of new FIFA news is literally unheard of so I was as surprised as anyone when the first FIFA12 details were revealed yesterday by the big man himself in an interview with UK Official Playstation Magazine. FIFA news in January is strange to say the least and taking the last three years as a rough guide it’s normally late spring before even the smallest rumours begin to surface.

When it comes to speculating about upcoming FIFA titles usually the response is “EA do not discuss titles which have yet to be announced.” For some games that would be fair enough but this is FIFA, one of EASPORTS biggest franchises whose future is more secure than Fort Knox. We all knew FIFA12 would exist but having EA acknowledge it before any kind of “official” announcement is something very new indeed.

The EA party line then certainly seems to have softened based on previous experience which I’d say is a good thing because open and honest communication is what we all want.  We know that the development cycle is working around a five year plan so therefore it’s only right that future games are acknowledged as part of that.

The huge danger in talking FIFA12 up so soon though is that it could be perceived as almost abandoning FIFA11. Most of the community are still lobbying for another patch for the current game; the destiny of FIFA12 is something they’ve yet to even consider. The responses I received on my Twitter last night echoed that point entirely. The major theme was cynicism, closely followed by a bit of disbelief and then confusion.

The annual February update is looming and as the transfer window slams shut questions are going to be asked about what we’ll be getting as part of that update. Will it just be roster changes or will it include gameplay and stability improvements too? My gut feeling is that it will be a roster update only and if that is the case then the last opportunity for a FIFA11 patch may have sadly passed us by. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Another reason for getting FIFA12 out there so soon could be because of the re-emergence of PES in the last six months. Konami have certainly got the series going again with PES2011 widely regarding as a step in the right direction. Konami’s own stance on community has softened recently too and its no coincidence that the game has improved since they began to open up and listen.

EA aren’t running scared by any means but for the first time the publishers will be starting from an almost level playing field in 2011. The battle for football gaming supremacy will be closer than ever this year and EA’s early FIFA12 talk only enforces that feeling of immense competition between the two studios.

I think it’s also really important to add some context to Dave Rutters interview as well. I mean it was only a casual interview after all; there weren’t any official tones to it what so ever. There were no bombshells just a few improvements mentioned that we all knew needed addressing anyway. I also don’t expect this to be followed up by EA officially either. I firmly expect things to go incredibly quiet again on FIFA12 until things start up for real in the spring.

It’s always great to hear about a new FIFA title especially when the noises are so positive but I just don’t think the community is ready yet. Far too many FIFA11 questions remain unanswered and until they are I think people will be very resistant to the notion of a new game taking over the mantle. Februarys update will be key to that and if there is one more FIFA11 rabbit in the hat this FIFA12 news will pale in comparison. But if there is no patch then the emphasis will shift violently to the new game and I fear many of our FIFA11 questions may remain unanswered.

The development for FIFA12 needs to start now, the question is can EA afford to leave FIFA11 behind while they do it?

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