Time for change: EA SPORTS FC needs to rebuild Ultimate Team after dropping FIFA name

David Purcell
ea sports fc logo

After FIFA 23 is released, the popular football video game series will be rebranded to EA SPORTS FC – and make no mistake, players are watching closely. For all the growth in Ultimate Team microtransactions, this historic moment needs to feel like one. 

Electronic Arts announced the news on May 10, following a public standoff between the publisher and football’s official body over licensing exclusivity.

In an official statement, they said: “Next year, EA SPORTS FC will become the future of football from EA SPORTS. Alongside our 300+ license partners across the sport, we’re ready to take global football experiences to new heights, on behalf of all football fans around the world.”

That puts any scare stories about the franchise becoming more like Pro Evolution Soccer, without official licenses, to rest.

Yet, the most interesting line for players won’t have been the promise to make FIFA 23 the best ever. Instead, it was: “This new independent platform will bring fresh opportunity – to innovate, create and evolve. This is much more than just a change of symbol – as EA SPORTS, we’re committed to ensuring EA SPORTS FC is a symbol of change.”

With a promise to innovate and evolve set in stone, all eyes turn to a massive rebuild job that can’t be kicked down the road: Ultimate Team. 

Ultimate Team needs changes in EA SPORTS FC

FIFA 23 will be a memorable one regardless of its success. Not just because it’s the last of its kind, but crossplay is being integrated for the first time ever, allowing PlayStation and Xbox players on the same virtual pitch. This feature must lay the foundations for an all-encompassing market, to combat the in-game economy crisis that’s made so many FIFA 22 cards worthless.

The grind for Ultimate Team items creates desperation to buy more packs, as the highest valued commodities are few and far between. You know things are bad when ICONs have seen their values fall off a cliff. Here you can see how damaging the market has been, with the likes of Chelsea’s Kai Havertz commanding 112,000 coins in FIFA 21, and in FIFA 22 (upgraded) the card would fetch just 5,100 coins. Whereas, a unified market could increase demand for these sorts of items.

That is just scratching the surface, in terms of a rebuild.

fifa 22 fut market
The FUT market in FIFA 22 was a disaster.

FUT Champions players are among the most content-craving members of the community. They are always looking for something different, and the current structure – while only introduced in FIFA 22 – needs work. It’s so Weekend League focused now that Division Rivals doesn’t feel as worthwhile once you’re qualifying regularly, Squad Battles is an afterthought, and seasonal updates are… Who even cares?

If the average value of general pack rewards is decreased due to the market crash, you either need to play more games or buy more packs. This underscores the importance of not just an economy resolution in EA SPORTS FC, but a rebuild of mode rewards to each feel important to participate in – rather than funneling everyone into the one tournament: FUT Champs.

Online tournaments with themed requirements have been done before and would be a welcome return for the rebrand. Not only would this bolster FUT promos, by having themed tourneys released alongside them. It would also be another way for the community to earn coins to spend on new cards when they’re released. If it is harder for players to build up coins, buyers will be pickier.

fifa 22 gameplay and controller
FIFA Online tournaments were very popular – and should return.

Squad Building Challenges were initially a revelation for the series, allowing the most creative club owners to pick up special cards with certain solutions. It created a good community element, and still offers a few rare opportunities to bolster your squad. Yet, the cost of completion on average has soared year on year, meaning the concept of spending less to get untradeable cards is often flawed.

EA SPORTS FC needs to shake off FUT gambling claims

These core problems swing players towards microtransactions by design, which is a terrible shame as packs will always be purchased in Ultimate Team.

It isn’t necessary to pour oil on what’s already a contested issue about loot boxes causing gambling habits in children. EA may dispute that claim (and I would too, depending on the case), but real signs of change are needed now more than ever if they wish to shake off those associations.

Put the mode rebuilds to one side for a second, and just think about the name: EA SPORTS FC.

ea sports fc poster
Nike has signed an exclusive deal for content in EA SPORTS FC.

Polling conducted by myself and other writers has shown thousands of players wanting a new developer for the series. Many have urged 2K and other publishers to bid for FIFA naming rights, indicating there’s a feeling of discontent bubbling away in the community that’s being seasoned with each passing year’s disappointments.

Therefore, not only is a rebuild needed to fix Ultimate Team, but also the public feeling toward the developers.

Gameplay is always a divisive issue with FIFA fans. Some want the game to be slow, while others demand a return to the pacey arcade style of years gone by. The dev team can’t really control those debates because it’s usually one or the other, though big questions about monetization and values will need to be answered with this rebrand. Electronic Arts needs to keep people onside as they enter unchartered territory – otherwise, a future FIFA licensed game from another publisher might just steal the spotlight.

Will EA SPORTS FC actually become a symbol of positive change for Ultimate Team, or will it be two years of development and more of the same? There is just a single right answer: The time for change is now. 

About The Author

David is the former US Managing Editor at Dexerto.com. You can contact him via email: david.purcell@dexerto.com.