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SUBJECT [Game Life] Jay’s Game Analysis in March : FIFA Online Series DATE 2013-03-29

My game selection for March is the FIFA Online series, which is especially popular in Korea and other Asian countries. Although FIFA Online is not well known globally, it has driven a high level of interest more than the FIFA package series in Korea. The newest version, FIFA Online 3, was launched in Korea last December. FIFA Online 3 was developed by EA Seoul Studio, the Korean branch of EA, and published by NEXON, one of the massive game publishers in Korea. Some readers might be curious why Jay deals with the FIFA Online series instead of FIFA 13, which is known more globally. Here is my answer:

Features of the FIFA Online :Possibility of being an eSports title
Let’s have a look at the difference between the FIFA Online series and FIFA package series. One of the biggest differences is related to the eSports factor. Electronic Arts, who has all kinds of licenses on the FIFA series, focuses only on a few eSports events that they hosts such as the FIFA Interactive World Cup and has little interest in other eSports events. In fact, FIFA Interactive World Cup is very large in scale, which other events cannot compete with (it is famous for being recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records).
However, in Korea, where eSports has been well invigorated based on a high quality of eSports infrastructure, FIFA Online tournaments have been held more than the FIFA Package series. Indeed, FIFA Online 2 excited many eSports and soccer fans by being featuring in various eSports competitions such as the IeSF World Championship and Hyundai FIFA Online 2 Global Championship league.
In other words, FIFA package is well known as a game, but the FIFA Online series shows overwhelming power as an eSports title. Actually, FIFA Online has a weakness in its base that covers only Korea and Asia. As the publisher of FIFA Online 3, however, NEXON pursues a goal of global expansion. I am sure that FIFA Online 3 will be positioned as one of the representative titles in the eSports genre.
In addition, FIFA package, which is based on a console platform, cannot avoid lag issues, even though it supports network competition. On the other hands, FIFA Online is operated on PCs, which allows users to play in an optimized eSports environment.

Licensing of soccer player data
FIFA Online has never missed the 1st rank among online soccer games in Korea, not only because of the factors explained above, but because FIFA Online has much more soccer player licensing than the FIFA package series.
FIFA Online 3 has information of about 15,000 players in 40 countries who belong to 30 leagues. It means that FIFA Online 3 has a possibility to attract gamers as well as normal sports fans.

FIFA Online 3 Game Types
1) League Match
Single player mode. Players can be compensated after finishing one season in the game and start a new season. There are five levels of difficulty: Amateur, Semi-pro, Professional, World Class and Legend. Players have to clear the amateur level first to move on to the next class.
Until the professional level, players can clear modes with two or three skills. But starting from world class, the AI seems harder than ordinary players so that players will find themselves challenged.

2) Friendly Match
Multiplayer mode. In Friendly matches, player can enjoy two types of games. Player vs. Random mode has players meet opponents who are nearly equal in their skill according to players’ records. In Player vs. Friend mode, users can compete with people they know. FIFA Online 3 supports not only one-on-one matches but up to five-on-five team matches in Friendly Matches.

3) Ranking Match
Ranking Matches were added in January 2013. Users start the game with 1500 points. Ranking matches also support max up to five-on-five team matches like Friendly Matches.
Users are sorted to five classes: Amateur, Semi-pro, Professional, World Class and Legend, like league matches according to their record, and they can compete only with opponents in the same class as them. In ranking matches,
there is no draw and players must fight to the finish with injury time and penalty shoot-out, unlike other modes. Also, conditions of players such as injuries, records of yellow or red cards in the game have influence in successive matches.

Expectation for FIFA Online 3
Not long after FIFA Online 3 was launched, it was necessary to establish an exclusive client for eSports. Normal mode cannot guarantee a fair match because of the gap of ability between players according to nurturing players in the game, so it is currently difficult for FIFA Online 3 to be selected as an eSports title yet. NEXON recognizes this issue and is in progress of setting up the client.
I hope that the development of an eSports client keeps pace with its global adoption. Unlike the package series, FIFA Online 3 has a lower barrier to entry for users, not pushing them to purchase the game and support smooth network service. As FIFA Online 3 has already acquired the ability to attract players, I believe that FIFA Online 3 will show its worth as a great eSports title to user all around the world.
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