Big team fanboys, quitters and replays: Are EA Sports ‘in the game’?

Looking back at my school days, I recall many conversations with my friends whilst waiting for games to load from a humble cassette tape on the Commodore 64. One of those conversations stuck with me, when my friend announced that in the future there will be a gaming utopia where we will be able to play against people from all over the world, without ever leaving our computer screens.

Of course I scoffed at my friend, Dave, back then in the eighties. This was a time without mobile phones, never mind the internet as we know it. Thankfully I was wrong and he was a visionary, ahead of his time and that dream obviously became a reality. Here in 2011, people of all ages now play games together on a variety of consoles and computers, but there are still a few issues that frustrate all gamers in the online world.

Although the games from US Gold are nothing but a distant memory, each year, yet another set of sporting sequels will hit the shelves from the current champion of sporting games; EA Sports. We all know that certain aspects may have been tweaked, but it usually takes around two weeks for you to notice that, yet again, you have brought the same game as the year before. Complete with the same annoying problems still present, solely there to torment you for your stupidity.

When playing sport titles that offer a huge choice in teams or players to assume the identity of, it seems the majority of online gamers are almost zombie like in their character selections. For example when entering an online ranked match of FIFA, despite you selecting a championship or Div 2 side, your opponent will insist on playing with Barcelona or Man Utd.

Although I appreciate that it nice to play as the greatest teams in the world, the online gaming world quickly becomes quite boring when every game you seem to play includes the same two teams, especially considering the game itself takes great delight in boasting that it features 31 licensed leagues from 24 countries, as well as 39 national teams.

Here we go again…zzz…

Is there anyone out there that does not like the fact that every time Torres gets the ball in front of goal that he scores easily? Surely something like a Derby vs. Forrest match, where the sides are less effective, making it harder to score, combined with the local rivalry action would make the match so much more fun?

Fight Night is another example of this. Everybody you try to play against online seems to insist on playing as a heavyweight, and usually Mike Tyson. Yet the most tense and satisfying encounters are nearly always in the lower weight clashes. The only problem with this is that nobody else online seems to agree.

As frustrating as that can be, most gamers would agree that the most annoying aspect of online gaming is finding yourself against the beast known as The Serial Quitter. The problem is getting so bad that if you find yourself getting an early 1-0 lead on FIFA, you very often find yourself subconsciously sitting back a little and maybe even giving your opponent a chance. Why? Because there is always that knowing feeling that the person will hit the power button on their console of choice.

Again, if you feel like taking your frustrations out on someone in a game of Fight Night, you would be foolish to believe the Queensbury rules will be carried across into the online gaming world, as you are much more likely to get a headbutt followed by a low blow and the all too familiar message of “Your Opponent has quit”.

Rage quitting annoys everyone involved.

There are other bad traits. Every now and again you will pull off something quite special and feel so proud that you have to take advantage of the replay option. Who doesn’t want to watch in wonder as you scored the winner in the 90th minute or knocked out Mike Tyson in the 3rd round with a killer left that Henry Cooper would have been proud of.

However there a few out there who seem to take great delight in making you watch every replay again and again whilst forgetting the skip option, despite being 3-1 down in the 80th minute. Maybe they are trying to use Jedi-like mind games on you, but mostly I’m left thinking ‘what a tosser!’

At this point, many will tell me there is nothing that can be done about the actions of the spiteful or the unimaginative, but I believe there are a few little changes that could point gamers in the right direction. The achievement/trophy system seems to be the obvious start.

FIFA, for example, could introduce a 100GS Achievement for playing 75 games with a weaker side than your opponent, or as a 3-star rated team. The same could be applied for the dreaded quitters of the online gaming community by offering a 200GS Achievement for playing 200 online games with an under 5%DNF (did not finish) ratio.

The achievement/trophy system could be put to better use to make the game more rewarding for all, instead of celebrating pointless things like uploading a picture or saving a replay. If the rumours of EA introducing subscriptions for online games are true, then they really need to prove that they are as ‘in the game’ as they keep telling us they are.

What do you think? How would you stop people quitting and playing as the same sides? Let me know your thoughts.

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