EA are bloody up to something. Something that might just involve seizing back a prime cut of PC gaming rump. Browser Tiger Woods, browser Ultima fan-baiting and, soon browser FIFA. The next time you hear someone say that the major publishers don't care about PC gaming anymore, tell 'em about this sinister-but-exciting plan.
FIFA Online yet will mix sport and quasi-RPG elements, will only require an average-spec PC and goes into open beta in Europe this June. It uses the FIFA 10 engine, so may be lavish-looking than the Unity-powered Tiger Woods game.
From the sound of things, it's going to be a similar model to EA's own Battlefield heroes - free but funded by micropayment add-ons (which is definitely somewhere they could clean up, in terms of kit, players, teams and sponsorship gumpf) and is apparently aimed at a more casual crowd than the license's traditional audience. There'll even be mouse-only controls, suggesting something pretty darn simple. Which might mean I'll actually be capable of playing a football game for the first time since Sensi! Let the records note this is probably the only time I've ever been excited about football.
While there's the potential for milking an ungodly amount of cash out of beFacebooked fans of foot-to-ball who generally claim to have only the most minimal interest in videogames, it's taking a big risk with one of EA's biggest names - especially as it'll doubtless be competing with their own World Cup game around that time.
Unless that's going to be saved for console only, and the browser game is the only future of FIFA PC... They've certainly alluded to something like that in the past.
Judging by its executive producer Kaz Makita's press release comments, this is certainly aimed to be an alternative to the console FIFAs, a different sort of game rather than a replication of them. "There are a large number of soccer fans who do not want a console gaming experience due to time and other priorities in their personal lives but they still want to be able to play a top-quality soccer videogame. FIFA Online will be designed specifically for them." `There are also a large number of European soccer fans who hated being called 'soccer' fans- given FIFA Online is, apparently, as much as two years off for America, that's a bit of a whoopsie.
The closed beta kicks off - hahah like kicking off in a football match hahah - later this week, and you can apply for it here.