Nev's Knockdowns

Hating on the Ratings: The annual FIFA fury has begun

You’ve got to give it to EA Sports. They sure know how to promote a game.

It’s about this time every year that talk of the new FIFA video game becomes almost unavoidable. From Twitter to tabloids, everyone is discussing the new features to be introduced to the extremely popular franchise. It’s peak FIFA fanaticism. Rumours that September is set to be renamed FIFAtember are yet to be denied by the World Month-Naming Committee. Make of that what you will.

Until FIFA 19’s official release on Friday 28th, many questions will remain unanswered. Which incredibly catchy song from the new playlist will drive you to insanity? Will the proposed redevelopments to Ivy Lane be complete in time for the new season? Is Alex Hunter really planning to launch a Conservative Party leadership challenge?

The debate that annually eclipses all others surrounding FIFA is the player ratings. With the top 100 players on the game being revealed earlier this week, emotions have been running high. Men, women and children the world over simultaneously cheered, cried and defecated as they discovered their team’s star man has gone from an 81 to an 82.

Previously pleasant and harmless visits to YouTube are now tarnished with thumbnails of 40-year-old men in their full replica kits and gaming chairs gasping at Paul Pogba’s passing stats. “86!? What the hell EA?!? IS THIS SOME KIND OF GAME TO YOU?!?!?

The game-makers have craftily latched on to the furore caused by the ratings, calling on the help of football’s biggest stars (and Oleksandr Zinchenko) to make this quirky promotional ad. The video has only raised more questions. When is Rio Ferdinand going to accept he’s no longer relevant? Is Kevin de Bruyne’s public speaking stat of 23 a little harsh? What the hell is a SpencerFC?

The tongue-in-cheek feel to this trailer perhaps underlines the stupidity of the outrage that surrounds FIFA ratings. The players themselves – the ones who are being analysed within an inch of their life for every attribute, statistic and performance – largely don’t care.

Whilst we remonstrate and exasperate over our hero’s in-game abilities, they’re quite happy to ironically mock the idea of being all that bothered. Elite athletes don’t waste their energy over such futile subjects. They save their temper tantrums for scuffles with opposition players or being justifiably penalised in a Grand Slam tennis final.

But the debates will continue regardless. Angry gamers will shout angry words at each other until the end of this angry month. Then, the talking will die down and the gaming will take over. FIFA rage will revert back to its ‘conceding last minute, controller through the TV screen’ definition. All will be normal in the world. Until then, happy FIFAtember everyone, and may all your ratings wishes come true.