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EA Sports’ last FIFA will be its biggest ever, developers vow

Cross-platform play and PC feature parity anchor the last game of a 30-year lineage

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

EA Sports and FIFA are breaking up after this year, but developers at EA Vancouver vow fans will get a passionate last dance in FIFA 23, which the studio is billing as the biggest soccer game it’s ever built.

For starters, FIFA 23 will deliver long anticipated — and overdue, in the eyes of many — cross-platform multiplayer, with some limitations at first. EA Sports confirmed that a new matchmaking ecosystem, tested this spring in FIFA 22, will be available at launch. Players also get both the World Cup (commencing Nov. 21) and Women’s World Cup (July 20, 2023), with those tournaments’ branding, national teams, and players, for the first time in the same game.

Women’s professional club soccer will make its debut in FIFA 23, seven years after women’s national teams joined the football simulation in its tournament and one-off play-now modes. Perhaps most importantly, Windows PC players will now get a game upgraded to the engine that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X users have played with since 2020.

“This is our last FIFA-titled game, after a rich 30-year history,” producer Matt LaFreniere said in a closed presentation last week. “So we know that it has to be special.”

There’s some fine print on cross-platform play. It’s only available for the same console generation, so, PlayStation 4 with Xbox One, and PlayStation 5 with Xbox Series X. But, “this is a long time coming for FIFA and we know that our players have been waiting for this,” LaFreniere said. The cross-play expansion will speed matchmaking time, he added; further, “We’re already exploring expanding our cross-play capabilities in the future.”

FIFA 23 on PC’s feature parity comes two years after the launch of the current PlayStation and Xbox console generation, along the same timetable as FIFA 16 when it delivered PC parity two years after the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 debuted. All of that will be wrapped in a new presentation layer and gameplay animation toolkit the studio is calling HyperMotion 2. That will extend the work begun with FIFA 22, which delivered motion-captured animations from full, 11-on-11 matches of soccer, played by professionals and recorded by EA Sports Vancouver developers.

HyperMotion 2, which EA Sports said it will discuss in-depth later, will bring another 6,000 animations to the game, a marketing bullet point that lifelong sports gaming aficionados have mostly tuned out. Sam Rivera, an EA Canada producer, said additional mo-cap sessions, plus new machine learning, will affect player behavior in even more noticeable ways. Goalie interactions with the ball and defenders during set-piece shots on goal were presented as exemplary of HyperMotion’s newly iterated technology.

FIFA 23 will launch this fall for Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described what platforms would be available to play with others through the cross-play that FIFA 23 supports. This story has been corrected.

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