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EA optimistic PlayStation Network down time won't hurt FIFA online

Outage has been "concerning", but firm assumes levels will return

EA Sports is "hopeful" that FIFA 11's record-breaking online player levels will return to normal in the coming days, as the PlayStation Network down time is consigned to history.

PSN returned to life over the weekend after over three weeks offline.

Sony took the service down following an "illegal intrusion", or hack, on April 20. The platform holder has admitted that PSN users' credit card details may have been accessed by the guilty party.

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Meanwhile, FIFA is one of gaming's most popular online titles, having provided over 800 million game sessions, according to EA stats. The publisher is gearing up to the release of FIFA 12, which is expected to be released in the autumn.

"On a professional and business basis, [the PSN down time] has been concerning," FIFA senior producer David Rutter told CVG.

"When we're talking about all of those people playing all of those games of FIFA, they've not had access to the game as we'd intended, so it's disappointing. I don't want people not to play FIFA - I want them playing FIFA more than anything else. That's my baby and I want everyone to really love it.

When asked if EA was confident that its players levels would return to normal on PS3, Rutter added: "We're hopeful. I haven't checked the graphs [since PSN came back online], but I'm assuming that we'll be as popular as we were before this happened. I guess we'll have to wait and see."

Not that it's all about corporate concerns for UK ex-Pat Rutter. He also commented: "On a personal basis, the whole PSN thing's been a little bit disconcerting. I like to switch my time between the consoles, and this year's been a bit more about PS3 for me, so it was heartening to get back from a business trip the other day, put in LittleBigPlanet and actually be asked to update, change my password and login. Now I can get my Portal 2 co-op trophies sorted, which will be nice."

Good man - we know how he feels.

FIFA 12's flagship features include an 'impact engine', which sees players reacting to collisions in a variety of new ways, as well as improved AI and a tweaked defending system.

EA Sports believes that the suite of alterations are the biggest changes that the series has seen since the implementation of an entirely new engine in 2007.

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