2020 is a year that will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. While many industries have seen their turnovers decimated over recent months, the gaming sector has, at least, remained buoyant. In fact, it has even won some new devotees during the weeks of lockdown.
However, that is not to say that it has been unaffected. Developers, programmers and software engineers can work remotely to a certain extent, but pipelines for game releases have still become backlogged as the world has remained behind closed doors.
Show goes on for FIFA
Fans will, therefore, be breathing a sigh of relief to hear sports gaming giant Electronic Arts’ confirmation that it has no intention to delay the release of FIFA 21 or its other showcase sporting titles like John Madden Football this year.
FIFA is the best selling sports franchise ever, having moved more than 280 million units since the first version of the game was released in 1993. Each year’s new release is accompanied by the sort of hype that is usually reserved for the latest smartphone, with people camping out overnight to be first in line when the shops open.
This year, its importance has come into even sharper focus. The postponement of real-life soccer has seen pros turning to the virtual world, with FIFA tournaments being live screened and televised. These days, people who enjoy betting on football via sites like the ComeOn sportsbook (www.comeon.com) can even place a wager on FIFA e-leagues.
A huge benefit to EA Sport
There are still more questions than answers regarding how the real soccer leagues are going to conclude their seasons. The Bundesliga is back in action, while the Premier League and La Liga are tentatively expected to recommence in June. In all cases, the games are being played to empty stadia.
EA’s CFO is Blake Jorgensen and he said last week that the company has seen “positive engagement” from fans despite the unprecedented situation in the leagues. He said that sports enthusiasts are “engaging with sports because that’s what they love to do” and that if the only way to do so right now is through gaming, that is “a huge benefit” for EA.
Running to schedule
Almost the entire global workforce at EA shifted to a remote setup at the beginning of May, but the company confirmed that to a large extent, its teams have still managed to deliver live service content such as season five of Apex Legends on schedule.
There is, therefore, good reason to believe that EA will be as good as its word in getting FIFA 21 out to its fans on time. Officially, this is stated to be “during the second fiscal quarter,” which runs from the beginning of July to the end of September. In recent years, however, each new FIFA game has launched in late September, and so we can expect the same this year, with a launch date of September 25 being strongly mooted by industry insiders.