Pro Evo Soccer may have won next season's foot-to-ball battle before it even begins. During an interview with Polygon, Andrew Wilson, executive vice president of EA Sports, revealed that the fancy new ball-jiggling mechanics of the Ignite engine will not be gracing the PC version of FIFA 14, which will instead be equivalent to the 360 and PS3 editions. Why? Well, PC conversion would be difficult because of the architecture of the next-gen consoles and "how the CPU, GPU and RAM work together in concert in that type of environment." It's like an abstract alien factory in there and the conversion wouldn't be worthwhile because, Wilson claims, using the example of FIFA 11, "the majority of the gamer base that was playing the game on PC did not have a PC spec that would work with that". Huh.
The last three FIFAs have played almost identically to their top-end console counterparts, although for the first few years of the 360 era, PC versions were tied to original Xbox and PS2 level tech. It looks like that's going to be the case again, at least for a while. Wilson asked himself about the possibilities.
So could I see the potential for EA Sports Ignite to make it to PC in the future? Yes, I think it's possible, but a couple of things need to happen. There needs to be some adjustment in terms of how EA Sports Ignite works to facilitate the open nature of PC architecture, rather than the closed nature of console architecture.
That's EA's job but you have a job as well. Yes, you! Upgrade your PC and stop lagging behind the power of the Nextest Generation. You're letting the team down, you really are. Until the average hardware spec of PC FIFA fans is powerful enough to handle the splendour of Ignite, Wilson reckons that porting the engine across makes no business sense. It's not clear how EA have identified the specification of every potential purchaser, or even if they've taken into account the number of PCs in the hands of consumers (loads) compared to the number of Xbones and PS4s (currently none).
EA Sports haven't had a healthy relationship with the PC for a good while, so this isn't particularly surprising. I can appreciate that consoles are the main market for the gather-round-the-telly sessions that are a strong part of FIFA's appeal, but there's an enormous NFL-shaped hole on PC and the ponderous playbook-sifting of Madden is surely as suited to the office chair as to the couch.
One thing's for sure - I'll be checking out PES instead of FIFA this year, for the first time in ages, because there's very little point in buying what may effectively be FIFA 13 again, with all the names switched around. Whether they've successfully identified the size of the potential playerbase or not, this seems like a sure way for EA to shrink it. Hopefully 2K won't follow suit with their splendid NBA franchise.