Change of formation

I’ll just put my cards on the table I think, makes life easier. I really like EA. They went through a sticky patch but in the 16 bit days they published most of my favourite games and now they are back on form with Dead Space, Mirrors Edge and the top sports games keeping my 360 spinning daily. However even I, a fan and a defender of the much maligned company, must admit that their approach to downloadable content has been…iffy. We’ve had downloads to unlock everything in games with no effort, the proposed cash for weapons Battlefield: Bad Company scandal and a bit of overcharging for stuff like costumes across plenty of games. Now though not only are we seeing a change on downloadable content policy from EA but we’re also seeing it come from a bit of a strange source.

EA announced recently that they were going to release something nobody had really tried or thought of before, an expansion pack for a sports game. Fifa 09 is getting a brand new game mode called “Ultimate Team”  and it’s not just a quirky extra but a completely different way of playing Fifa. You get assigned a bog standard team and play games online and offline, as you play and win you get points to spend on virtual card packets (or you can take the risk and buy them with your own cash). Within these you will get strips, stadiums and players all of which you can use. You also get modifiers like contract extension cards and in game modifier cards like “speed boost” which you can use as and when you like. The idea is you slowly build your dream team and rise through virtual rankings winning trophies for your trophy room as you go. Combine with that PS3 trophies and achievements for the 360 along with a staggering amount of depth to the whole card system and you have a mode that the old EA may have released as a stand alone game! All very swish and a big step towards the online manager mode the fans have been craving. Back to my original point though, namely whilst this is undoubtedly an interesting step forward for the sports genre how does it potentially mark a bit step forward for EA and downloadable content?

The big different between Ultimate Team and every piece of console downloadable content out there is that this comes with a trial period. Upon download you have 5 days to try it out and get a feel before shelling out the cash for it. Such a simple idea but it’s perfect, and particularly for quite expansive pieces of extra content. A demo for Shivering Isles (the massive Oblivion expansion pack) would’ve been nice, or how about letting us play a match or two on new Halo maps before choosing whether or not to buy? The issue is that downloadable content is very much like impulse purchases for gamers, you browse and buy with one tap of a button and instantly have it downloading. This is all well and good but if the quality isn’t there you can’t trade that game in or sell it on ebay, that cash is well and truly gone. This move from EA to give gamers a chance to try before they buy in a virtual space is simply speaking extremely fair given the unknown nature of this type of expansion pack and something I’d definitely love to see more of from all companies.







3 responses to “Change of formation”

  1. GamerGeekGirl avatar

    I’d like that… tbh, I don’t download very many expansion packs – and they’re usually decided by “how good was the game” rather than the quality of the expansion pack itself (At least, I either feel like “I want to experience *ALL* this game”, or I don’t)

    But… yeah… cool idea 🙂

  2. Laura avatar

    Oh I really like the sound of that, try before you buy.
    I wouldn’t have needed a demo or a trial to get the Oblivion expansion though.

    Oblivion *drool* 🙂

  3. big mean bunny avatar
    big mean bunny

    Not to rain piss on your parade and whilst the trial idea is fantastic but The Mode is seemingly a direct copy of Sega’s popular (in Japan, failed here in the UK) arcade trading game WCCF (world club championship football I believe it stands for)

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