There’s only one game that makes Electronic Arts’ audience and its shareholders salivate each year. It isn’t Madden NFL and it isn’t The Sims. The big money, and the big quality it seems, is in FIFA 13. The latest edition of EA’s perennial football simulator is shaping up to be one of the year’s bestsellers, with 4.5 million copies sold around the world, an impressive number of which were on digital platforms. EA’s raking in the cash. FIFA 13 should prove extra profitable this year, though, as evidence suggests that the publisher introduced some unique cost cutting measures. The cheapest way to make money on a game is to not bother making a new one.
All evidence suggests that the Wii and PS Vita editions of FIFA 13 are little more than repackaged versions of older versions of the title.
First, Nintendo World did a gallery comparison between the Wii editions of FIFA 12 and FIFA 13. With the exception of Lional Messi putting in an appearance on 13’s title screen, the game’s menus, layout, field game, and even messages to players in the game’s Career mode are identical. There are squad updates, but that and other minor tweaks are the extent of the differences between the two editions of the game. That is, of course, in addition to FIFA 13’s bigger price.
The Wii edition of the game is obviously not a huge priority for EA. Software sales for Nintendo’s 6-year-old console have been sinking for years and, with the exception of some of its first-party titles, have all but bottomed out ahead of the Wii U’s release. It’s a dishonest, consumer-unfriendly release, but it is a fiscally sound one. The PlayStation Vita edition is less forgivable.
By all accounts, FIFA 13 for PS Vita is almost the exact same game as FIFA Football, a game released for the handheld in February at the system’s launch. Based on the FIFA 11 engine, the new release is a full-priced update with tweaked touch control.
When asked by Wired whether EA intentionally repackaged products, a spokesman ignored the question, responding that the publisher “felt it was important to continue to offer fans the opportunity to play an authentic football experience on Wii.”
It’s tough to finger just what kind of impact these shoddy releases have had on consumers. Of the 4.5 million total copies sold, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Vita, PSP, PS2, Wii, and iOS releases, EA only provided some break down. 353,000 of those copies were PS3 and Xbox 360 copies sold in the US. 1.23 million across all platforms in the UK. No numbers were provided for other regions like India where FIFA is hugely popular despite being hugely expensive.