This year, fans of EA Sports titles like FIFA and Madden who play on PC—and there are more of us than you think!—are upset that those games will be ports of the last-gen versions, and not of the fancier editions appearing on the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
Eurogamer published a story earlier today collecting some of this disappointment and frustration, from game forums to Reddit, following the reminder this week that the PC versions of Madden 22 and FIFA 22 will once again be based on the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
FIFA fans were particularly upset, because EA Sports announced a new thing called “Hypermotion” for FIFA 22, which combines 11v11 motion capture of an actual game of football with machine learning, to—in theory—completely change the way FIFA plays (we’ll see about that, of course, since sports game marketing features are usually more bark than bite).
The thing is, this is not new, nor is it exclusive to EA Sports games, and as long as our video game platforms evolve the way they currently do, things will likely stay this way.
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This happened last year with FIFA and Madden. And NBA 2K, which also had a fancier next-gen version on PS5 and Xbox Series X, was put on PC as a last-gen port. And it happened last generation, as we can see from this PC Gamer story from 2013:
And it happened the generation before that as well. Both times it took a few years for the PC versions to catch up to the consoles, and that’s likely to happen again this generation. Sometimes EA Sports gives a reason, sometimes they don’t; sometimes 2K do, sometimes they don’t.
When they do, like last year, it’s because...it’s a legitimate reason! Here’s executive producer Aaron McHardy talking to Eurogamer about FIFA 21:
When we looked at what generation to put the PC game on, we looked at our fans and what capabilities they had with the hardware they have.
And we have that information to understand what the power of the PCs out there in the world are. And when we looked at that, in order to run the gen five game, our min spec would have been at a spot that would have left a lot of people out in the cold not being able to play the game.
So we made the choice to keep the PC version of the game on the gen four version of FIFA so that we can open the doors and be inclusive to everybody who wants to play FIFA.
The type of PC gamer who goes on forums to complain about specs and versions and updates is usually a very PC gamer, and while I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush here, that’s also a community that tends to not always understand the main market for sports video games, as we can see here with this chat from a Reddit post about the news:
FIFA is literally one of the most popular video games on the planet. Ditto Madden and NBA 2K. These games are being sold to millions upon millions of players around the world, some of whom (like me!) might play all kinds of games and spend thousands on cutting-edge hardware, but many of whom are far more casual consumers, who might be playing on older hardware, or even school/college laptops.
You know how there are loads of people who only play FFXIV, or WoW, or Destiny, or League of Legends? Yeah, this is just like that, with LoL and WoW in particular being great examples, since they’re also huge games that have held back on technological improvements for the sake of a wider install size.
While some PC gamers might be able to play a fully fleshed-out next-gen version, many can’t, and it would be suicide for EA or 2K to make that jump so quickly and cut out so much of their intended audience. That’s why the last two generations have waited at least two years before the PC versions caught up to consoles, and why that’s now happening all over again.