The 2018 FIFA World Cup game remains a mystery even as the tournament draws closer

Posted March 6th, 2018 at 9:15 am

Every four years the traditional FIFA World Cup game from EA Sports is eagerly anticipated by fans across the globe. The game that represents the tournament has proven to not just be successful in terms of sales (in the millions of copies) but also by acting as an especially accessible product and a bridge for what has generally been a more casual crowd to the traditional FIFA series. 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa was one of the best sports games of the last console generation and coincided with explosive growth for FIFA that would help it become the most popular video game series in the world.

That makes it especially curious that it’s March and EA has barely made mention of World Cup. The last two World Cup games have been announced on February 6 and January 26 respectively, providing the publisher ample time to execute marketing campaigns in the many different regions of the world involved. 

Of course marketing strategies are dramatically different these days than there were even just four years ago but it’s getting to the point that EA would be severely restricted in how well they could promote the product prior to its release. The wait will have also cost them the opportunity to capture as many pre-orders as possible. The World Cup games have come out in mid-late April in order to have a sufficient window to capitalize on anticipation before the tournament begins. That would then leave just six or seven weeks until release now.

With that in mind it raises the possibility that EA is approaching things differently because they have a new strategy in place. It would disappoint a lot of fans but the longer it stretches on without a game announcement the more likely it would seem that they would be going the downloadable content route through FIFA 18.

Extended lead-time would not be as necessary for promoting DLC as a full retail release. FIFA 18 is already in the hands of well over 10 million people. EA would save lots of money on production and marketing. The World Cup games have always been at a disadvantage in that they have a very brief window to sell copies – when the tournament ends all interest goes with it. These days where digital revenue is seemingly the priority, without a longer-running digital revenue source it may not be seen as the worthwhile investment it once was.

Despite those considerations it would be hugely disappointing news if that is what turns out to be the case. Given the love for past World Cup games, the lack of reliable internet in many places across the globe, what would surely be a limited experience that’s not comparable to that of a full game, and the loss of that “bridge” to the more intimidating FIFA, fans would be the ones who lose most in that situation.

During EA’s recent fiscal reporting at the end of January the World Cup was referenced once, and in a way that makes it sound as though the plan is for a retail release. The quote is vague enough that it could be interpreted differently however.

It’s a World Cup year, and with the largest sporting event on the planet set to reach billions of soccer fans, our EA SPORTS development teams are packing excitement into our next FIFA.

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia kicks-off June 14th. Hope remains that there will be a complete video game experience to accompany the tournament, but time is running short for that to be made official.