A Poor Imitation

24 September 2018 | Lloyd Hughes

The launch of EA Sports’ latest FIFA football game is an annual event that football loving gamers the world over look forward to.

Even though the gameplay is often very similar, the main draw is new teams (post transfer window), new kits and updated player stats.

To boost anticipation ahead of each edition’s launch, EA Sports plays a masterful game of releasing titbits to the public. Its official launch is Friday (28th September), but for the last few weeks – if not months – the team behind FIFA has been unveiling player ratings in stages, allowing its fans to glean insight as to who’s likely to be amongst the best talent in the game.

It’s not just fans who get on board with this either, as players themselves often dispute their official ratings. Indeed, in the past the team at EA Sports have even amended them, with Rio Ferdinand notably getting a pace improvement in a previous version having complained on Twitter, while both Jesse Lingard (no surprise there) and Wilfried Zaha have asked for their hair to be amended in the 2019 game – no doubt inspired by Rio’s past success.

Thanks to player/fan engagement it’s on social media where FIFA tends to get the best promotion.

A good bit of brand awareness for the upcoming release has actually centred on a poor bit of design work.

John McGinn of Aston Villa’s animated likeness was so bad that the club’s official Twitter account raised it with EA Sports, tweeting the developer’s account and asking if the shoddy resemblance to McGinn was a joke. Judging by the lack of response, it wasn’t.

Undeterred, the Aston Villa account decided to factor in the image when celebrating McGinn’s first goal for the club (which was an absolute corker, btw) tweeting their standard #PartOfThePride player goal graphic, but instead of incorporating a real photo of the player as per the norm, they swapped McGinn’s FIFA image in instead.

John McGinn had himself earlier joined in the online #bantz by tweeting the image alongside the #NewProfilePic hashtag, generating 20k likes in the process.

All of which is great for EA Sports, which will be delighted its game is generating conversation ahead of launch.

This kind of interaction is good PR for the club, good PR for the player and excellent PR for the game…even if the graphic design is a bit sh*t.