EA has, in recent years, scaled back its support of sports games on the PC, openly admitting it's due to low sales and high piracy numbers. Rather than go DRM-crazy, though, they've smartly decided to adapt, as they have with seemingly their entire PC lineup the past year or two, today announcing a free-to-play game: FIFA Online.
The game, of course, will be an online-enabled installment in the FIFA franchise, and will be accessible to anyone with an "average spec" laptop or desktop computer. Graphically, it holds up pretty well, too. We'd put it somewhere between the Wii and PS3/Xbox 360 installments of FIFA 09.
FIFA Online is said to offer an "authentic [soccer] experience" with 30 licensed leagues, 500 clubs, and over 15,000 players. Interestingly, during the incoming closed beta stage, the game will utilize mouse control only. It's not clear if keyboard and/or gamepad support will be implemented at some point later or not, but we've asked EA for clarification.
Other features include a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa tournament mode, accessible at first shot. Once the second beta begins, many others will be available, including a League Mode which lets you manage and compete as your favourite club, online play, trading, skill upgrades, and "unique" apparel, acquirable through earned in-game currency or micro-transactions. More content will be designed based on fan feedback.
European players get the first shot, being such big "football" fans and all. Closed beta will begin for you guys February 3, accomodating more than 20,000 players. Open beta will then begin in June. For eager fans outside of Europe, you can expect to get your hands on it within the next 12 to 24 months. To sign up, hit the source below.
“Listening to and engaging football fans has been one of the driving forces behind the success of our FIFA franchise and now we are inviting European football fans--in mass numbers and earlier than we ever have before--to help us develop a new football game,” said Executive Producer Kaz Makita. “Fans will determine the features that matter most, and at the end of this process, our goal is to deliver a game for fans looking for a quick football fix at home or at work.”
“There are a large number of football fans who do not want a console gaming experience due to time and other priorities in their personal lives but they still want to be able to play a top-quality football videogame,” explained Makita. “FIFA Online will be designed specifically for them.”