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New ‘FIFA Mobile’ mode puts the focus on strategy, not action

Would you rather oversee your FIFA Mobile team than control your players’ every last step? You now have your chance. EA has introduced a Manager Mode to the Android and iOS title that has you focusing on strategy and tactics rather than action. You choose the starting lineup, set the tactics in real-time (such as attacking or countering) and let your team play. You can even queue multiple matches as you climb the division ranks.

The corresponding game update also improves goalkeepers, adds player switching options and offers kits for 30 national teams. The upgrade is available now.

This doesn’t turn FIFA Mobile into a management sim like Football Manager. You aren’t scouting talent, shaping training programs or wrestling with the team’s board. Think of this more as the soccer equivalent to an auto battler like Auto Chess or Teamfight Tactics — it’s a slightly more relaxed experience that does more to reward situational awareness than fast reflexes.

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EA’s last FIFA game is finally making women’s soccer a priority

After revealing Chelsea star Sam Kerr on its cover earlier this week, EA has unveiled the first trailer for FIFA 23 showing that women’s soccer will finally be a key part of the game. It will include women’s club teams from the top leagues in England and France, along with both the women’s and men’s competitions in both the 2022 Qatar World Cup and 2023 Australia/New Zealand World Cup. 

International women’s teams have been available in EA FIFA games since 2016, but this will be the first edition with club teams. The women’s game has climbed in popularity thanks in part to the Olympics and other international competitions, and the 2022 World Cup will provide another huge boost. Two leagues is far short from the dozens available for men’s soccer, but it looks like EA plans to add more via future updates. “We’re committed to building an equitable experience and aspire to help grow women’s football,” said FIFA 23‘s Matt Lafreniere.

FIFA 23 also introduces cross-play functionality and more “realistic” gameplay via its latest evolution of HyperMotion2 technology, EA said. That feature applies machine learning to motion capture data to create smoother player movements during gameplay.

FIFA 23 will be EA’s last version of the game with the FIFA name, as it failed to come to terms with FIFA over financial and exclusivity issues. However, EA still holds licenses for more than 300 soccer partners and has exclusive agreements with the likes of the Premier League, MLS, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A. The series will be rebranded as EA Sports FC in its future versions.

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‘FIFA 23’ has a female player on the Ultimate Edition cover for the first time

EA has announced the cover stars for  and, for the first time in the series, a female player will feature on the Ultimate Edition, which will be available internationally. Chelsea’s Sam Kerr is one of the two cover stars, along with Kylian Mbappé of Paris Saint-Germain. This will be the third straight year Mbappé has appeared on FIFA covers.

Kerr is a more than worthy player to showcase on the game’s cover. She has been shortlisted for the women’s Ballon D’Or every year since the award’s inception and finished in third place in last year’s voting. Among her many other honors, Kerr has helped Chelsea to win the Women’s Super League in each of the three seasons since she joined the club.

EA put women on the cover of its soccer games . Steph Catley, Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair featured on the Australian, US and Canadian covers, respectively. They appeared alongside Lionel Messi, who was the cover star on other editions.

Meanwhile,  reports that the Women’s Super League, which is the highest-tier of pro women’s soccer in England, will make its debut in the FIFA series this year. Until now, FIFA fans have only been able to play as women in the Volta and Pro Clubs modes, as well as in international teams through the kick-off mode.

EA will reveal much more about FIFA 23 when the first trailer debuts at noon ET on Wednesday (you’ll be able to watch the video below once it’s live). This will be the last annual EA soccer game that bears FIFA branding in its title. The name of the series will become EA Sports FC next year following .

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FIFA isn’t thrilled with EA’s dominance of soccer games

Do you lament EA’s dominance of soccer (aka football) games due to its licensing advantages? So does FIFA, apparently. Eurogamer notes that FIFA has issued a statement insisting that soccer gaming and eSports should have more than one party “controlling and exploiting all rights” — a not-so-subtle reference to EA. Accordingly, FIFA is talking to developers, investors and other groups to “widen” its gaming and eSports options.

The organization added this would help “maximize all future opportunities.” It also reiterated its commitment to running eSports tournaments under its FIFAe brand.

The statement comes at a crucial moment for both EA and FIFA. EA’s current licensing deal expires after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and New York Times sources claim talks have stalled between the two sides. FIFA reportedly wants more than double its current cut from EA (more than $1 billion over four years) while also limiting EA’s rights to keep it to video games. EA, meanwhile, is considering new names for its soccer games while supposedly exploring new concepts like arena-based tournaments, NFTs and even highlights for real-world games.

A decision is expected by the end of 2021, according to The Times, but EA is hedging its bets by registering an “EA Sports FC” trademark. EA and FIFA have declined to comment on the talks.

In that context, FIFA’s statement may serve as a warning shot — see things our way or miss out on a valuable licensing agreement. While EA’s existing clout might help a non-licensed game sell, there’s little doubt a generic game would lose players hoping to control Mbappé or Messi in real clubs. EA won’t necessarily bow to FIFA as a result. It might, however, be more aware of what’s at stake if deal negotiations fall apart.

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PS4 ‘cryptofarm’ reportedly used bots to grind in-game FIFA currency

Earlier this month, officials in the Ukraine busted what appeared to be a cryptocurrency mining operation that used thousands of PS4 consoles to mine crypto. That doesn’t quite seem to be the case. According to a new report, the consoles (and allegedly stolen electricity) were actually being used to farm and sell digital currency and accounts for EA’s FIFA games.

Ukranian news outlet Delo reported that PCs were running bots on the consoles to play FIFA and automatically earn an in-game currency. Players can use FIFA coins in the Ultimate Team (FUT) mode to either scoop up sought-after players on an open market or open controversial FUT packs in the hopes of unlocking killer additions for their squads. FUT packs can also be opened with real money.

Although buying or selling FIFA coins with real money is against EA policies, that hasn’t stopped a thriving black market for the digital currency. People sell coins or game accounts loaded with the currency to players who are desperate to build a dream FUT roster. One site I checked listed a PS4 FIFA 21 account with 5.1 million coins for $300 — enough to buy

Ultimate Team modes across EA’s sports games are enormously important for the developer’s bottom line. Last year, EA made $1.62 billion from Ultimate Team, which accounted for 29 percent of its net revenue for the fiscal year. “A substantial portion” of that revenue came from FIFA games.

Meanwhile, FUT packs and other loot boxes have drawn scrutiny from regulators in recent years. Since gamers can’t see which soccer players they’ll unlock when they buy a pack, some authorities have described the packs as a form of gambling. Belgium banned that type of game mechanic in 2018. This summer, perhaps in an attempt to stave off the criticism, EA started testing a type of FUT pack that allows players to preview the contents.

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FIFA 22 promises to deliver realistic gameplay in October

Team contact sports might be one of the most challenging video games to make when it comes to simulating reality. In addition to the AI controlling players on both sides, players have become more discerning and demanding when it comes to imitating the fluid and sometimes unpredictable movement of athletes, especially those that are supposed to mimic real-life people. That is the challenge that EA Sports is rising to meet with FIFA 22 and its “next-gen HyperMotion” tech that will be launching next quarter.

Gone are the days when sports video games like basketball and football (soccer for the US) looked like janky caricatures of the real thing. Realism has always been a goal for this genre, and today’s games sometimes look like they’re straight out of a live sports event. There’s always room for improvement, though, and that’s what EA is bragging about FIFA 22.

New to this latest installment in the long-running football franchise is HyperMotion, combining motion capture of 22 pro players and everyone’s favorite secret sauce, machine learning. This proprietary system learns from 8.7 million frames of match captures and writes new animation in real-time, according to EA Sports. The promise is a more realistic-looking game that almost looks and feels like the real thing.

Beyond the motion aspects, FIFA 22 will also deliver upgrades across the board, including an overhaul of the goalkeeper system. FIFA Ultimate Team, a.k.a. FUT, is, of course, an important part of the game’s appeal, and the new FUT Heroes brings new items for fans of the sport to collect.

FIFA 22 launches on October 1 on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PC (Origin and Steam), Stadia, and even on the PS4 and Xbox One. There are still a lot of questions that are left unanswered, however, like long-awaited cross-play support. There might also be some apprehension and caution for this year’s FIFA title, given how the previous installment was mired in loot box controversy.

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‘FIFA 22’ brings more realistic soccer to next-gen consoles on October 1st

EA isn’t just giving Madden NFL players an upgrade if they play on next-gen consoles. The published has unveiled FIFA 22, and its centerpiece is a new “HyperMotion” system that reportedly provides more realistic animation and gameplay when you game on a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S or Google Stadia. The technology uses machine learning to produce animations in real time, leading to more “organic” movement. HyperMotion also let EA capture motion for pro soccer (aka football) players competing at full tilt, including superstars like Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé.

The game is also coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC (via Origin and Steam). A FIFA 22 Legacy Edition is coming to the Nintendo Switch, although EA didn’t outline differences.

Thankfully, there are other substantial changes regardless of what platform you use. EA has hinted at a “complete” revamp of the goalkeeper system, a new club creation experience in Career Mode, “reimagined” Volta Football and a FIFA Ultimate Team Heroes item set that represents the tales of legendary players.

FIFA 22 will be released on October 1st for all supported platforms.

As with Madden, it’s apparent EA isn’t completely ready to drop support for previous-gen consoles. That’s not surprising given both the larger player base and shortages that limit the number of PS5 and Xbox Series owners. However, it is clear that the gaming giant wants to offer a strong incentive to play on newer machines. Don’t be surprised if FIFA 23 cuts off PS4 and Xbox One players.

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EA tests FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes you can preview

As part of FIFA 21’s ongoing Festival of FUTball event, EA is selling new Ultimate Team Preview Packs that allow you to see their contents before you make a decision whether to buy them. After previewing one of the packages, a timer starts that prevents you from seeing what’s inside another loot box until it runs out or you buy the one that’s currently available. 

In a blog post spotted by Eurogamer, EA says it will only sell Preview Packs during the Festival of FUTball. After the event ends, the company’s usual loot boxes will return to FIFA 21’s in-game store. It’s worth pointing out you use both the in-game currency you earn by playing the game and the FIFA Points you can buy with real money to purchase the Preview Packs.

EA’s Ultimate Team modes have been , but they continue to make the company money at a staggering clip. In fiscal 2021, nearly 30 percent of EA’s total revenue, or about , came from the Ultimate Team modes across its various sports titles. Several countries, including the , are investigating potential links between loot boxes and gambling, with possible regulatory action to follow.

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Hackers steal source code to ‘FIFA 2021’ and Frostbite engine from EA

Electronic Arts, the publisher of the Battlefield series and many other popular video game franchises, has been hacked. On multiple underground hacking forums, Motherboard found hackers claiming they had taken more than 780GB of data from the company. According to screenshots seen by the outlet, the trove includes the source code for FIFA 2021 and both the source code and tools for EA’s proprietary Frostbite game engine. Some of the other assets the hackers claim they took from the company include several software development kits. Those responsible are trying to sell the assets.

EA confirmed to Motherboard it was the victim of a data breach and that the data the publication saw online was what was stolen from it. “We are investigating a recent incident of intrusion into our network where a limited amount of game source code and related tools were stolen,” a spokesperson for the company told the outlet. “No player data was accessed, and we have no reason to believe there is any risk to player privacy. Following the incident, we’ve already made security improvements and do not expect an impact on our games or our business. We are actively working with law enforcement officials and other experts as part of this ongoing criminal investigation.”

We’ve reached out to EA for additional information.

EA isn’t the only video game publisher to get hacked this year. Following the buggy launch of Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red was hit by a ransomware attack. In that case, the hackers obtained and eventually sold the source code to the studio’s latest game. CD Projekt Red also blamed the hack for the delay in getting Cyberpunk’s 1.2 patch out. For now it appears EA is confident it won’t be affected in the same way. 

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FIFA 21 loot boxes revealed to have an aggressive EA push

Just like IAPs or in-app transactions, loot boxes have become one of the “dirty words” in the gaming industry. Unlike other forms of microtransactions, however, loot boxes have also come under legal scrutiny. Companies like EA have even been fined over such widespread yet also unpopular game mechanic, but it hasn’t stopped EA from pushing through with that line of business. In fact, a new leak reveals that EA was intentionally trying to steer FIFA 21 players that way, which, on second thought, might not be that surprising after all.

FIFA 21’s implementation of loot boxes comes in the form of card packs that give randomized rewards in the game’s FIFA Ultimate Team mode or FUT. These packs can be acquired using FIFA Points which themselves can be bought with real money. That kind of microtransaction isn’t exactly new nor illegal but it is the element of randomness in these loot boxes that is ruffling regulators and even some players’ feathers.

According to a leaked document from an anonymous EA Insider, this aspect of FUT isn’t just a sort of side game. In fact, it is supposed to be the cornerstone of FIFA 21 and that the company should do everything to drive players towards it. That EA would want more revenue from such features should hardly be shocking but leading players in that direction, both intentionally and subtly, doesn’t sit well with many of the company’s critics.

The problem is how loot boxes are seen as a form of gambling by some regulators and lawmakers. EA, of course, disagrees and cites how some of those have also refused to label loot boxes as such because of one critical element. While there is indeed randomness in what you’re getting, there is actually no cashout from it, which, for some countries, is the definition of gambling.

EA’s official response to the leak also denies “pushing spending over earning”. While it does say how important FIFA Ultimate Team has been to the franchise over the decades, it argues that the majority of FIFA players actually never spend money on microtransactions anyway.

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