EA has offered an explanation for why not all your FIFA 21 progress transfers from current-gen to next gen.
EA is using a system called Dual Entitlement to offer free next-gen upgrades. It means you can upgrade your copy of FIFA 21 on PS4 to PS5, or from Xbox One to Xbox Series X at no extra cost.
This is good news, of course, given some publishers are not offering a free next-gen upgrade. However, it's worth noting that not all your FIFA 21 progress will transfer from current-gen to next-gen.
All progress you make or content you acquire within FIFA 21 Ultimate Team, including players, items, coins, FIFA Points, match record and leaderboard placement, as well as all progression in Volta (the FIFA Street-style mode) will transfer from PS4 to PS5 and back, or from Xbox One to Xbox Series X and back.
But, progress within all other modes, including Online Seasons, Co-Op Seasons, Career Mode, and Pro Clubs, is specific to the console you are playing on and won't transfer between consoles.
This is obviously bad news to FIFA 21 players who focus on, for example, Career Mode. It means those who upgrade to next-gen will have no choice but to start over - that's quite the decision if you've pumped tens of hours into a career or Pro Clubs.
So, what's going on? I asked EA for an explanation, and FIFA executive producer Aaron McHardy issued a statement on the matter, insisting the development team decided "the time required to make all modes transferable was better used to build new features and improvements across the entire game".
Here's the statement in full:
"When we start developing for a new generation of consoles, there's ultimately some trade-offs we need to make. So we decided that the time required to make all modes transferable was better used to build new features and improvements across the entire game, along with addressing feedback from our players. Since both Volta and FUT are server-based modes it made sense for us to focus on them as a way for players to carry over their progression."
The issue here with FIFA 21 brings to mind the ongoing kerfuffle around PS4 to PS5 save transfers affecting some games. Last month, the developer of Yakuza: Like A Dragon confirmed PS4 save files can't be transferred over to the PS5 version. Then, in early October, Codemasters said the same was true of Dirt 5.
It's worth looking into exactly what transfers with Dirt 5. "Currently on Xbox, all progress can be carried over between generations," Codemasters wrote. "On PlayStation, your Playgrounds creations can be carried over, but other game progress (Career, currency, saved liveries) cannot. If that changes, we'll let you know!"
As Tom Phillips noted in his story on the matter, the difference between Playgrounds data (which is stored on a server) and personal game progress may be a clue as to what's going on. It seems there is some kind of limitation on what PS4 data can be accessed by a PS5 version - although one Sony can work around itself to offer save transfers on Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Really, only Sony can answer (and we've asked).
FIFA's FUT and Volta are server-based modes, as McHardy pointed out, so the situation with FIFA 21 on PlayStation does follow Dirt 5's lead, at least. But with FIFA 21, we have this game progress issue on Xbox, too, which is odd considering Microsoft's consoles have easy cross-save functionality via Smart Delivery - a program EA isn't using for some reason. Let's remember, following the news about PlayStation's progress transfer issue, Microsoft took the opportunity to get in a little pop on social media.
At Xbox we put gamers first. 💚🙅🏼♂️ https://t.co/5UqDZV8PLx— Aaron Greenberg 🙅🏼♂️💚U (@aarongreenberg) September 30, 2020
McHardy's statement suggests there is a time and resources issue in having progress transfer between console generations on both PlayStation and Xbox, and it is not as simple as flipping a switch. Whatever the case, FIFA 21 fans should know what they're getting in for before they buy a copy of the game, which goes on general sale tomorrow, 9th October.