FIFA 20 is doing the business for EA, but it's having a particularly tough time right now after a week of server woes, PR disasters and unrest within the pro player community.
Over the weekend, two professional FIFA players said they were forced to settle an official EA qualifier via a game of Rock, Paper Scissors because server issues prevented them from creating their match online.
Red Bull-supported FIFA pro Shaun Galea took to Twitter to complain about the situation, declaring: "I am done."
I cannot believe it !! @EASPORTSFIFA @EAFIFADirect We literally had to play a rock paper scissors becauce we couldn’t find each other to invite in an EA LICENSED QUALIFIER . WTF !! 😭😭 I am done— brandsha (@brandsha56) February 29, 2020
Hasan Eker, the other player in the FUT Champions Cup Stage 5 Qualifier match, also spoke about the incident on Twitter.
Stehe 3-1, da ich mich im Rock Paper Scissors erfolgreich durchsetzen konnte! pic.twitter.com/PvBcQ8EXqx— Hasan Eker (@eker_haso) February 29, 2020
EA has since issued a statement saying it is looking into "this really unique situation" in a bid to understand what happened and prevent it from happening again. EA also pointed out both players were able to play subsequent matches in the tournament with clean connections.
This Rock, Paper, Scissors match has gone viral on social media, but in truth FIFA 20 has suffered server issues for some time now, with the week just gone a particularly rough ride for those who play the game online.
Connectivity issues popped up multiple times over the weekend, during which the high-stress, ultra competitive Weekend League was played. Another pro player, Levy Frederique, said they spent three hours trying to connect to FIFA 20.
Frederique also said he suffered a loss upon disconnecting after winning a penalty shootout.
Things got so bad, EA was forced to extend the Weekend League by 24 hours.
Update:— EA SPORTS FC Direct Communication (@EASFCDirect) March 1, 2020
The Weekend League is being extended by 24 hours.
Even Virgin Media is getting involved.
It appears that FIFA pros have for some time now been frustrated by the game they play. In a remarkable post-match interview from February one pro - arguably the best FIFA player in the world - made his feelings on the game perfectly clear. After reaching the Xbox semi-finals at the FGS masters in France, Donovan "Tekkz" Hunt called FIFA 20 "unrewarding", and said "no-one enjoys playing it".
Hunt's comments sparked a vociferous debate within the FIFA community that revolves around connection issues, server problems, responsiveness (which EA recently discussed), and pure gameplay issues. After this weekend's events, this debate will no doubt rage on.
And for some pros who soldier through the Weekend League, which is crucial to their success on the pro-FIFA circuit, EA's server issues are having a severe impact on their mental health.
Please read: Some thoughts on the recent qualifiers. To any pros struggling and feeling in a bad place with how their season is going, make sure you look for help if you need it ❤️ pic.twitter.com/BXRjjHFJyG— Zel (@Zelonius) March 1, 2020
Meanwhile, EA Sports is facing a touch time online after it banned prominent FIFA streamer Kurt "Kurt0411" Fenech from all of its games for posting abusive messages and videos about EA employees and competitive players on social media. Pretty much all EA's FIFA-related social media posts since have been met by replies from people referencing this ban.
FIFA 20 is making EA millions - in fact revenue from Live Services, of which FIFA Ultimate Team forms a significant part - reached nearly $1bn during the company's recent holiday quarter. But while the suits at the top of EA will be thrilled with FIFA 20's performance, it is clear the hardcore community is not.
The question is, will things improve meaningfully before the release of FIFA 21?