With the arrival of this summer's World Cup tournament in Russia, Electronic Arts is veering from one of its soccer game mainstay. For the first time in 20 years, EA Sports won't release a dedicated World Cup game.
Instead, EA plans to launch a free World Cup update to FIFA 18 for all platforms (PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One) on May 29. It's more than an afterthought, too. EA promises the full rosters of all 32 qualified countries, the 12 Russian stadiums the World Cup will be played in, official kits and tournament balls, and new celebration cinematics.
This is a significant offering for a free update. On one hand, it's incredible that this content -- which was its own retail product for two decades -- is now a gratis add-on. On the other, maybe EA ran the numbers and realized that new Ultimate Team microtransaction sales would outweigh net sales of a new game.
Generosity and business savvy are mutually exclusive, and this is almost certainly the latter. But, business savvy doesn't necessarily put the consumer in a disadvantageous position. This feels like an instance where everyone wins -- except the handful of people who eagerly awaited 2018 FIFA World Cup (Russia) and never got it.