The removal of icon SBCs is a huge loss for the community

FIFA19 1 - The removal of icon SBCs is a huge loss for the community

There's been so much excitement over the new icon swaps program that not many people have talked about what we lost in the exchange. Let's look at the evolution of icon SBCs the last three years:

FUT 18 – Icons are slowly rolled out over the course of the game cycle. Eventually you can build the best version of any icon in the game.

FUT 19 – Icons are initially released in sets (I can't remember if they were repeatable or not), which limited choices more than in 18. When this change proves unpopular, EA revert to a FUT 18 like system of individual icon SBCs, but unexpectedly introduce Prime Icon Moments and withhold the most desirable meta icons. PIM Eusebio, R10, R9, Gullit, Pele, and Vieira are never made available via SBC, and the excuses for why are incredibly lame. Bottom line: You can no longer build the best versions of the best players.

FUT 20 – There will be no individual icon SBCs. EA has total control over which icons you can get, when you can get them, and exactly how you have to unlock them.

So we've gradually moved from being able to build the best versions of people like Gullit and R9 to being completely dependent on a drip feed timeline that dictates what's available, when, and how. Let's think about the consequences of this:

  1. Icons become more accessible – This was the main argument EA provided when they announced icon swaps, obviously to control the narrative and divert attention from the total removal of individual icon SBCs. But I'd contend that this wasn't their main goal, as they easily could've kept icon SBCs in the game and simply removed the icon requirement, which would've allowed undesirable icons to drift down to affordable prices like in FUT 14. 1-2 weeks of DR and WL would allow anyone to try a tradeable bottom tier icon. The new icon system was less motivated by a desire to let everyone access icons and more about my next point.

  2. Desirable icons are less accessible than ever – In the previous two years, you could accumulate assets, melt untradeables into icon SBCs, and gradually work your way up to an elite meta icon. With zero individual icon SBCs, that's no longer possible. Moreover, now that nobody can build elite meta icons through SBCs, demand for tradeable elite icons will be much higher, which will in turn drive their prices up. So while everybody can get a free Guardiola or Nesta if they please, the path to the actual great cards like Gullit and Vieira has become harder than ever.

  3. Packs are less valuable – With no icon SBCs, demand for 84+ SBC fodder and discard IFs is lower than at any point in the previous two FIFAs, meaning those cards are worth relatively little when you pack them. So not only are you going to need more coins to access a Gullit/R10/R9 type of card, but it's going to take longer to accumulate those coins even if you buy FP, because the return of individual packs has declined as a result of the overall changes.

Add it all up, and it seems pretty clear that the new system was deliberately designed to block access to elite cards, expand the paywall, and encourage more FP purchases.

I've always said I'd stop playing FUT when it no longer became possible to obtain the best content on a F2P account and we may finally be approaching that territory this year. Barring absurd luck or patience, there's essentially no route to obtaining multiple elite icons for people who aren't spending heavily.

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