As sure as the sun will rise, EA Sports will keep the fires of industry burning at Electronic Arts with its annual releases in the Madden NFL, NHL, and FIFA Soccer series. With spring in the air, EA Sports has taken this week to make some early announcements about its perennials. FIFA Soccer 14 was officially announced on Wednesday morning, and while EA showed off a plethora of new features, the company’s silence about what platforms FIFA will be available for raised a number of interesting questions.
First, some quick notes on those new features. Like all of its annual entries, FIFA Soccer 14 makes some minor tweaks to the winning formula that’s made the games EA’s biggest earners. Pure Shot is this year’s raison d’etre, a new method for shooting the ball intended to add an extra layer of skill to scoring in the game. The idea on paper sounds little different than improvements introduced in past years in all franchises, whether it’s dynamic tackling in Madden NFL or the physics added in FIFA 13 to make the ball behave more realistically on the field. Without actually playing the game though, Pure Shot and other new features like improved team AI or Protect The Ball defensive maneuvers are simply good ideas. They may make for a tangibly different game of FIFA, or they may just be marketing bullet point for the back of the box.
More intriguing in EA’s announcement is what platforms FIFA Soccer 14 will be available for this fall. The announcement only mentions Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC editions of the game. There are no fewer than six different platforms that EA could release the game on as well this fall, but they’re nowhere to be seen beyond the company’s mentioning that “additional platforms will be revealed in the months ahead.”
Now the absence of PlayStation 4 and Next Xbox editions is justifiable from a business perspective. EA may simply be opting to wait until E3 and avoid the awkward mention of “other next-gen consoles” in place of the Next Xbox. The PS4 and Next Xbox editions of the game could also offer new features related to unannounced parts of Sony and Microsoft’s new machines. Those sorts of announcements are the stuff of E3 press conferences after all.
More curious is the absence of Wii U, PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and iOS versions of the game. EA was caught reissuing old games on Nintendo Wii and PS Vita last year under the FIFA 13 name, and the company has also been slowly backing away from Nintendo Wii U. Xbox 360 and PS3 titles like Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, and Fuse skipping the machine entirely. If EA isn’t going to release its sports franchises on Wii U in the future, that’s a bad omen for Nintendo’s machine.