Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I See The Future And The Future is Ugh

I played the UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 demo for the 360 last weekend.

Electronic Arts hasn't put out anything resembling a great soccer game in a long, long time, so my expectations were low. The gameplay was entirely forgettable on the pitch, but one feature really caught my attention: an elaborate trading card system.


These cards can do just about anything: heal injuries, give temporary performance boosts, performance decrements (for opponents), improve team chemistry, extend player contracts, and just about anything else you can imagine. And there are apparently hundreds of different ones.

You actually assemble a deck, and you can purchase card packs (bronze, silver, or gold quality) from points you earn during matches.

This was a real head-scratcher. Why would designers of a team sports game add a card deck element as a vital part of the game?

The demo mentioned the card packs several times, and at the end they mentioned that cards would also be available on the Xbox Live Marketplace.


Don't want to wait to earn points in matches to buy your card packs? Gold packs require so many points that it would take forever to play enough matches?

No problem, I'm guessing. Just whip out that credit card and buy them.

Here's the future: EA Sports is going to redesign every single sports game they have to maximize the amount of additional content they can offer via the Xbox Live Marketplace. The entire design focus is going to be on monetizing the game after we buy the game.

$59.99? That's just the buy-in price, baby.

I don't think this would bother me nearly as much if they were improving their sports games, but they're not. Their games rarely get better from year to year. They all have framerate issues. They all have few user options. Some, incredibly, have ONE camera angle. With only rare exceptions, they have abysmal A.I.

Doesn't matter to them, though, because if it did, this wouldn't have gone on for years. They can talk all they want about how they're going to improve quality, but the hard truth is that when it comes to quality, they haven't changed a damn thing.

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