FIFA 12: Ultimate let-down?
At the end of September 2011, EA Sports released its latest version of the FIFA football series, FIFA 12. It subsequently became the most successful sports computer game ever with 10 million gamers having bought FIFA 12 in the first three months alone.
One of the most appealing aspects of the new game is the Ultimate Team aspect, which allows you to play against others online and, of course, build your ultimate team and watch them rise up the rankings. Sound good?
Well, unfortunately this isn't what many of our viewers have experienced. We heard from lots of gamers who couldn't progress up through the levels at all. Wins were often registered as defeats, teams were falling in the rankings and worst of all, you could lose your money.
Many of our viewers found that when they played online they were disconnected either during or at the end of the match, which should have earned them a win. As well as spending £40 on the game itself, some of the gamers we have heard from splashed out as much as £77 on special packs which allow users to buy new players, contracts and customise team strips. However, all of this is for nothing when the game disconnects from the EA servers. Points are lost and teams slip down the rankings.
When hit with a barrage of complaints from angry gamers, EA refused to take responsibility, claiming only a tiny minority of users were affected, suggesting the way gamers' consoles were connected to the internet was the problem. But with problems affecting those on different makes of console it doesn't seem to be a fault at the gamers end but a problem with the EA servers, a view that our expert Andy Robertson agrees with. He explains that 'information has to pass from their console via their router via their internet service provider to the EA servers but something, it seems like at the EA end, isn't responding in the way it's meant to and its disconnecting'.
With the problem seemingly lying at the door of EA, the responsibility surely lies with them to get to the bottom of it? Our contributors feel let down by the way in which EA have responded to the problem and about the amount of time it has taken for them to find any kind of solution.
A spokesperson from EA Games said:
Our team is fully aware of the disconnect issue with FIFA Ultimate Team 12. Our customers let us know directly through player feedback in our forums in October.
The issue was associated with certain types of router hardware that resulted in very small but important pieces of data being blocked at the conclusion of a game. It proved to be very a challenging engineering problem, even for the FIFA team - one of the best engineering teams in the industry - and extremely hard to resolve.
The team immediately tried to reproduce the issue so they could troubleshoot and deploy a fix. As we often do, we turned to our fans to help, and we proactively asked them to send us the information they were receiving when getting disconnected. That forum thread solicited almost 3,000 responses from fans, and more than 200,000 views. You can see the thread here: http://forum.ea.com/uk/posts/list/1132741.page
More than 120 hours of programming time in the FIFA studio were invested to narrow down and ultimately resolve the issue.
Based on our estimates, 0.4% of our FIFA Ultimate Team 12 customers have been impacted on the PlayStation 3 and PC platforms.
We confirm that no Xbox 360 players were impacted. Our team has tested that scenario multiple times - and that specific disconnect issue is not happening on the Xbox 360.
The players you mention may be encountering things like signal loss with their internet provider, or a need to reset correct date and time or reboot power. Could also be a question of checking their server or testing with a different name/account.
On March 13-14, 2012 we will be deploying a patch to FIFA 12 that will end the disconnect problem. We announced this to our fans on March 9 via our forum, web site, and other communications channels (http://www.ea.com/soccer/news/details-fifa12gameupdate-01). We understand that the wait has been frustrating for many of our loyal fans.
Players who were most severely impacted experienced a major disruption to their game experience. We will be compensating those people with FIFA Ultimate Team packs and coins significant enough to demonstrate just how thankful we are that they stuck with us while we tackled the problem.
Of the six customers initially identified by Watchdog, three were already in our system as being adversely affected by the FUT disconnect issue. We are currently gathering information for the other three (including the additional one sent to us on March 9th), and if warranted, they too will receive compensation.
These actions and communications are testament to our commitment to our players and their game experience.