Electronic Arts takes a lot of shit from a lot of people for many of its business practices. So its decision to just give away a big FIFA 18 World Cup update—something they used to charge for—is a pleasant surprise.
Announced earlier today, the World Cup update will add a ton of new stuff to FIFA 18, from new team kits (soccer teams always debut new uniforms for major tournaments) to Russian stadiums to officially-licensed graphics.
Players will be able to play through the entire 32-team World Cup, have the option to customise the tournament to include teams that didn’t qualify (like the US, Italy and Netherlands) and World Cup content is being added to FIFA 18's money-printing Ultimate Team mode.
The last time there was a World Cup, in 2014, EA released a standalone video game for it. Granted, it was more comprehensive—it included the tournament’s qualification process, which meant all 203 FIFA national sides were present—but many of those were unlicensed, and the business end of the game sounds similar to what’s being offered in the World Cup 2018 update.
UPDATE: Ah, I forgot EA also released a smaller, free update for Ultimate Team to coincide with the 2014 World Cup as well.
In 2010, there was also a standalone World Cup game. And 2006. And 2002. And how could we ever forget 1998's tournament, which got not one but two video games featuring France 98.
These were all retail titles, packaged and sold separately from that year’s FIFA, and while they of course had new uniforms, updated rosters and tournament-specific commentary, fans were still essentially being asked to pay for two FIFAs in a single year since so much of the underlying code remained the same.
So while this 2018 update may not be as compehensive as previous years, the fact it’s free more than makes up for that. It’s also a surprisingly generous move from EA, a company known more for squeezing as many dollars out of fans as it can, not just giving away major content updates for nothing.
Maybe it’s a post-Battlefront PR move. Maybe there’s the realisation that the last time EA charged for tournament DLC it didn’t go so well. Maybe they saw Konami’s free Euro 2016 update and wanted to beat it. Maybe it’s just a sign that Ultimate Team makes so much money for EA they don’t care about the cover charge.
Who knows. All I know is that FIFA 18 was already an amazing sports game that I played a ton of in 2017. Having the entire World Cup added to it for nothing means I’ll now be playing a ton of it in 2018 as well.