FIFA 11 Ultimate Team – Interview
EA tells us about what to expect from Ultimate Team, why it’s free this year and what the future may hold for mobile apps and beyond
Play: How will you be looking to build on the success of Ultimate Team? What new features should we expect?
Paul Hossack: Since the FIFA 10 Ultimate Team’s release in February, we`ve crammed a lot of community requests in a short amount of time. First and most obviously, we`ve brought in the launch date significantly to November 3, 2010. We`re really excited that gamers will be able to play FUT 11 much earlier and longer this year. Paired with that, we`ve decided to make FUT 11 free to play – no more charge to unlock the mode.
From a feature perspective, we added the #1 requested feature of Play A Friend – now you can match up against your mates taking your ultimate teams onto the pitch to prove who’s the best. Can’t wait to start playing this ourselves. We’ve also made a lot of other improvements and tweaks, such as a new look for Team of the Week items so that you never miss them in a pack or on auction. Team of the Week was a massively successful feature from FUT 10 where each Wednesday we release a team of players who were in form in the real world. These players can be found in packs for one week at a higher rating than normal – this created a huge amount of excitement and buzz last year and we’re looking forward to doing more with it this year.
The final area where we’ve made a lot of changes is on the FIFA Ultimate Team Web App (www.easportsfootball.com/ultimateteam). Any FUT gamer can go to this web site and manage their team while they are away from their console (e.g. sneak in a little FUT while at the office or in class). We’ve expanded the functionality to include managing all your squads (great for getting a squad ready for the matches you’ll play when you get home), showing off your squad to friends online, full auctions for all item types. We also have some new features for returning FUT gamers. Starting Oct. 27 they can go to www.easportsfootball.com/ultimateteam and open their FUT 11 starter pack before the console game has even launched. On top of that, they can open up their loyalty gift (2 free gold packs). Each day they come back to the web up to Nov. 3, they will get a random daily gift (like packs, coins or bid tokens). Finally, we are introducing a new web-only feature called FUT Generations, where returning gamers can create a web squad where they can put both their best FUT 10 and FUT 11 players on the same squad and show it off to the world. We’re really excited about this last feature because we wanted to let all our FUT gamers that all the effort they put into FUT 10 is still around and valuable.
Play: What brought about the decision to make it free this year?
PH: We decided to make FUT free for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a bit of a thank you to all the FUT gamers out their for their commitment and loyalty. But also now that we have Play A Friend, it will help even more FIFA gamers take the plunge and find out how fun FUT is, especially when you’re battling against your mate’s best squad online.
Play: How pleased have you been to see this feature grow in popularity over the recent releases to the point of expanding into other EA Sports titles?
PH: How about ‘very’? The FUT dev team is really proud of what we’ve been able to do in the last couple of years. It comes down to focusing on what the gamer wants, ensuring there’s a great balance so that the game if fun for a long time, and supporting it post-launch with lots of updates and dynamic content. The fact that Madden and NHL both have there own Ultimate Teams is great. We all love the mode and share ideas on how to make it better for each game.
Play: To what degree do you feel Ultimate Team actually helps attract a different kind of audience to FIFA 11?
PH: In all honesty, I think so far FUT has been a great new outlet and way of playing for people who are already playing FIFA. That said, once people find FUT, they tend to play it a lot and for a long time. Over time, I hope FUT can broaden it’s reach and bring in brand new consumer into the FIFA family. Features like Play A Friend will help as FUT gamers will hopefully encourage others to give it a try so they can match up their Ultimate Teams against each other online.
Play: There are a great many things FIFA 11 players can now do to keep in touch with their game even when not at home thanks to various FIFA applications online. Can you see these becoming mobile phone apps at some point in the future?
PH: We are completely excited about the new features we’ve added to the FUT Web app. I believe this is the future – being able to interact with the game you love wherever you are. I can’t comment on future features like this one, but we do listen to our gamers and what they want. It would be cool to pull our your smartphone on the bus and pick up an in-form Gerrard off the auction market …
Play: How do you see Ultimate Team expanding and evolving in the coming years?
PH: I think you are starting to see some trends from FUT right now that I’d like to see continue. More features on the web, away from your console. We’ve already done a number of new feature releases on our FUT Web app since it launched in the spring. The addition of friend based features. Supporting the game with post-launch dynamic content. And delivering a well-balanced game that provides a ton of depth and a full-year of playability.