Earlier this month we posted the first FIFA 11 details. For those who missed it, '11 is set to feature "seismic improvements," reckons EA, including improved graphics, "massively" improved player AI and 'footballer personality'. It even allows players to record and upload their own fan chants.
To find out more about this year's release Rob Taylor travelled to EA Vancouver to chat to the development team and play the game. In the third and final entry in our series of FIFA 11 interviews, our man speaks to lead producer, David Rutter...
Ubisoft has just released Pure Football. Any chance of the mighty FIFA Street returning to compete for that arcadey niche in the market?
We have absolutely no intention of doing that!
Fair enough. We've come to love whacking a ball around the arena in FIFA... any plans to evolve it for '11?
At the moment, not a great deal - though we have got some cool stuff coming out that'll be released later.
But I can tell you that we've spent a lot of time with fans, and they spend a great deal of time there learning to play FIFA. I'm not that kind of personality - I'm straight in and play, good or bad. Other people go straight into management, or simply head-to-head...
Speaking of modes, what about Manager. It was better in 10, but it's still FIFA's serious weak spot. Are you investing serious cash in it this year?
Funnily enough last year, almost all of our game work was devoted to manager mode - it was a *big* investment. And it got a lot better, but it's a multi-year thing. It has been neglected for a long time, and this is the beginning of its reinvention...
Were you surprised by the success of Ultimate Team?
Yes and no. Yes, because I'm not a hardcore Ultimate Team kind of guy, I'm more OCD, with a low attention span. I do not have the time to go right down deep. Nowadays, fans know more about team than the manager though so they love these kind of things.
You've build your reputation as FIFA's producer around your relationship with the game's community...
I am a firm believer in interaction. I know very little about a lot of things, but I have strong opinions on gameplay and game modes - but then I might not necessarily be the key core demographic. Canvassing opinions gives me a broader perspective.
It seems crazy to ignore passionate FIFA fans, especially if they want to help. Will that be your legacy?
They may not all necessarily be right though; there's a lunatic fringe in videogames, just like politics! But the vast majority are critical - I like that.
At the same time, Joe (Booth, former producer) did a great job of pushing the boundaries of single player, Gary (Paterson) led the foundations of gameplay with Kaz (Makita). I was really lucky to join the FIFA 09 team at a tipping point and help out with course correcting, and make sure all the time we were engaging with the people who were our peers in the real world.