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FIFA For Free – Masterstroke or Madness

There are 7 billion people on the face of the earth, and that figure continues to rise every day. Of those 7 billion, the love of a sport known as football or soccer is in the hearts of 2 billion. The world’s best selling football game franchise is FIFA, which shattered records and set a new precedent for sports game franchises in general over the last two seasons. Saying that, the good people at EA Sports would be ecstatic if they sold 20 million copies.

Now take a moment and do the maths, out of the 2 billion football fanatics worldwide if only 20 million are buying FIFA. This means that FIFA is only being purchased by 1% of football fans worldwide. Depressing? The contrary, this is music to the ears of the good folk at EA Sports, fuelling them with hope as there is massive room for further growth. The only restriction however is the current high cost of video game hardware and software that quite simply is unaffordable to the majority of the people in the world.

Question, how do you tackle this problem? Elementary my dear readers, you give your game away for free! Enter FIFA Online, A Free-To-Play iteration of FIFA based on the PC platform.

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The game will be going into open Beta later this year, with a closed Beta to begin within the next few weeks. The game is based on the FIFA 10 PC Engine but reworked in order to allow it to be played on a wide range of capabilities that consumer PC’s have (we don’t want my cousin in Sudan to miss out because he has a single core processor)!

The game features three modes;

  • World Cup – Featuring all the teams that have qualified for South Africa 2010.
  • League – You can select from one of the 30 fully licensed leagues on the FIFA roster.
  • Versus – Take your team from League mode online to challenge the best.

Thats a total of 500 teams and over 15,000 players. Naturally the game will feature microtransactions, that allow you to add to the experience. But after much questioning (for the sake of my “cheap-skate” cousin) we were pleased to hear that micro-transactions are optional and that they do not have a major influence on the gaming experience.

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EA have ventured into this arena before, offering video games for free. You only have to think back to FIFA Korea where the game has been available to download for free with add-on’s being offered at a reasonable prices. This has been a big success in that region of the world. Its also a brilliant way to tackle the major issue of PC Game piracy that plagues many parts of the globe, particularly where incomes are lower.

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The other take on this new venture is that of “social gaming” as I like to call it. We’ve all seen the impact of games such as World of Warcraft, isn’t it now time that the world’s favorite sport had a worthy equivalent. Its a big step for EA but one that is clearly necessary and I genuinely believe will be thoroughly rewarding for both the fans and the developers.

So what seems like madness might seem so crazy after all! We will strive to keep you updated through the closed and open online beta’s taking place over the next few months. It’s a new beginning

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