I for one think the addition of FUT Champs in FIFA 17 has been revolutionary for this game. Whilst it may have had some unwanted negativity brought with it, the idea of a competitive mode giving the best rewards is one which I certainly think adds to this game's great potential. However, in recent iterations (19 and 20 specifically), the so-called "time efficiency" involved in playing FUT Champs has declined exponentially. Whilst I am aware and fully supportive of the argument that playing for rewards should not be the sole focal point of the playing of a game mode, considering EA label the game mode as having "the best rewards", I think it does no harm discussing where/how this decline started and (hopefully) how the balance can be restored.
When considering "time efficiency" and "value for time", it is natural to split this discussion into 2 sections:
- The amount of time required to obtain the rewards
- The value of the content that you are being rewarded with.
Time to Obtain Rewards
A lot has changed with respect to the format of FUT Champions since its creation in FUT 17. Those around for the first few weeks will recall the time limit being strictly 2 days over the actual weekend- from early hours on a Saturday through to the early hours on Monday. However, this was quickly rectified, so the format for the remainder of 17 and all of 18 is, in my opinion, the best one to compare to that in the last 2 FIFA releases.
In FIFA 18, the weekend league lasted 3 days and had a 40 game limit. A notable boundary for comparison is Gold 3 requiring 18 wins. As well as the weekly rank, your wins contributed to a monthly reward system, in which players were split into similar ranks to weeklies to get their monthly rewards. Using the final month of Champion's data, 5 weeks at 18 wins would give 90 total monthly wins, placing the user exactly on the lower boundary of gold 2 and rewarding them with a pack containing 4 red players.
Since then, a few key changed have been made. First, the total game requirement has been reduced by 25%, from 40 to 30. Moreover, the monthly rewards have been abolished to pave way for weekly red player picks, ensuring that you are not penalized for missing a WL. All this has been done whilst retaining the same packs & coin return at each rank. However, whilst there is a debate on the "weight" of red monthly packs vs weekly picks, from an objective point of view, the quantity of reward has increased due to the red picks. (Note, an exception to this is Top 100, where the monthly icon has been lost)
Comparing 5 successive gold 3 ranks from across the 2 formats gives, clearly, the same coin value and pack value. However:
- In FIFA 18, you would be rewarded with one Gold 2 Monthly pack- containing 4 random 81+ informs (or 86+ TOTS) from that month
- In FIFA 20, you would earn 10 player picks, 2 from each week, with each giving you 3 options for you to choose from. You would get a total of 10 reds, with at least 15 unique options to choose from.
To summarise this segment, the time spent to earn the rewards has decreased, whilst the objective quantity of the rewards has increased. In theory, this should result in a significant increase in value for time. In reality, the opposite has happened. The only explanation for this must be in the second possible factor- the actual value of the rewards.
Actual Value of Rewards
From the last section, we discovered that the objective value of the rewards that have been distributed has increased. However, it is important to look past the objective nature, and into the actual value of all aspects of rewards in the 2 game cycles.
- Packs and coins
In this segment, I will avoid talking about "pack weight" across the 2 years, as I want to make this post as least toxic as possible and avoid using theories as evidence.
The physical number of coins that are awarded at each rank is the same across all FIFAs, irrespective of the position of the market. Moreover, the general return from packs is roughly the same across both years in the comparison, with the average Mega Pack, in my opinion, yielding the same coin value in FIFA 18 than in FIFA 20, although this could be a contentious point.
However, we must consider the "value" that these coins have in the market. Doing this is very difficult due to shifting metas across the 2 games, however, I am going to use an end game icon in Mid R9 to compare how valuable the coins earned are. The reason I chose R9 is that he was meta in both 18 and in 20, whilst, up until mid-February, he had the same pack span in both games- with his Mid leaving packs in Mid Feb in 20 and his prime having a different release schedule across the 2 years, which could potentially skew the comparison.
On the 1st February (where the influence of going out of packs had no effect on his price in 20), R9 cost half a million coins more on 20(6.5M) than he did at the same date in 18(6M). Even for T100 players, that would likely be a few extra Weekend Leagues on top. This is not to mention the fact that, within 6 weeks, R9 would have a Prime Icon SBC for 4 Million coins, whilst in 20, no SBC will be available to attain his 96 or the extra version in his Prime Moments version.
In general, FIFA 20 gives you less bang for your buck in terms of coins for an identical player, as well as having many more cards better for you to attain. All this is whilst the same coin reward and pack return is given for each Champs rank, resulting in a lessened "value" in terms of player that can be bought, as compared to the objective "value" of the coins.
- Red Informs & TOTW Packs
In my opinion, this is the biggest reason for the decline in the "value" of playing Champs, as these are the two rewards that are exclusive to the game mode.
The easiest difference in this regard is the devaluation of TOTW packs objectively. A lot of this segment will be spent looking into how TOTW items, in general, hold less value in the game, but the TOTW packs give an obvious difference without the need to explain the many TOTW changes. In both 18 and 20, the size of the Premium and Ultimate TOTW packs have remained the same, however in FIFA 18, the packable TOTWs were 81+, whilst in 20, they are 75+. Using this week's TOTW as an example (TOTW 24), in FIFA 20, 22 of the 23 players are packable, whilst in 18, a further 4 players were removed from the pack pool. This means that 18.2% of the worst cards of the TOTW are able to be packed in the same pack in 20, when they weren't in 18.
However, the problem is much more far-reaching than this and the change in the actual basis of the rewards itself, the TOTW, is largely to blame for the demise in the game mode. The first and obvious change is the difference in the power creep of the game. In FIA 18 there were much fewer promos, so TOTWs remained relevant as some of the best cards in the game. This year, however, with the number of promo cards, the majority of players featured each TOTW either have better versions themselves or better alternatives with the same links. Now, this can't be used as a criticism in any way- the new promo cards are superb and add much more excitement to the game- however, the FUT Champs rewards have simply not caught up.
Finally, the biggest difference, in my opinion, with the TOTW is the way and extent to which they upgrade cards. For this example, I am going to use the difference from the 86 to the 87 Naingollan, both in FIFA 17 and FIFA 20 (NOTE: The headliner Naingollan gives the stats for what would be his next "IF" upgrade). I am not going to be looking at the physical stats, just the difference in them as this is indicative of the upgrade given.
Upon first glance, it is easy to see an immediate difference. In FIFA 17, he was given 13 face stats, whilst he was only given 9 in FIFA 20. In a game where the power curve is ever increasing, the basis that EA are giving for rewards is ever receding.
Another huge difference, however, is how the IG stats are upgraded. In FIFA 17, EA gave a linear upgrade to the stats, such that, if a player gained 3 passing, each ingame stat in the passing category gained 3. However, in FIFA 20, EA only inputs the 6 face stats, and an algorithm which dictated that the ratio of a specific ingame stat to the category it falls within is constant, no matter if that value if 29 or 99, for each specific player. The best example of this was FUT Birthday Lukaku last year, who was a CB with 87 defending, yet, none of his stats outside of heading accuracy surpassed 74. This only averages out at 87, as the heading accuracy should, in reality, be over 240, however, the cap at 99 falsifies the meaning of "87"
In conclusion, in the last few iterations of FIFA, coins and packs have been very easy to come by, leaving only the TOTW to be unique to Champs. However, the TOTW has been nerfed, not only relative to what it used to be, but also to the power curve of the game, giving rise to the Gamemode becoming less valuable and only played for enjoyment reasons or to an easily attainable rank. There are many fixes proposed for this, such as adding monthly rewards ONTOP, reverting to the old linear upgrade system, adding promo cards to picks and adding premium versions of each TOTW. I don't want this post to be taken as a toxic rant at EA, but more of a constructive look into why I personally feel the mode has declined, and a basis for discussion as to how it could be restored to its former glory!
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© Post "A Delve Into The Decline in the Value of Champs" for game FIFA 19.
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