For years I’ve been obsessed with FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode. Every year, to keep folk like me interested, EA tries to improve it with a new feature. Last year it was the fantastic Draft mode, which let you play as a team of ultra-rare superstars for a few matches in an attempt to win premium goodies. This time it’s the Squad Building Challenges (SBCs).
These are series of missions that task you with putting together squads that meet certain criteria. It’s a way of letting you make use of all those spare players you don’t need by giving them away in return for a special reward. One SBC may ask you to put together a squad full of Spanish players, or all silver-ranked players in the Bundesliga, or just Manchester City players.
It’s this final example which is ruining the mode for me. You see, as soon as the players you need are filtered down to a small group (such as one team), the FIFA community realises how valuable they are and gets dollar signs in its eyes. Suddenly players who are worthless become obscenely expensive.
One recent mission asked me to put together a team of Sydney FC players. Before the mission you could expect to pay 200-300 coins on the transfer market per player (winning a match pays out about 350 coins). Once the mission started this ramped up to about 10,000 coins per player. Since I refuse to pay real money for extra cash, I’d have to play over 300 matches to afford 11 of them.
“Deal with it Chris,” I hear you say (probably). “It’s supply and demand, mate. That’s life.” But that’s my problem. I play games to escape the outside world, not for a reminder that everyone would sell their granny if it meant getting a rare Del Piero Legends player. Even if their granny still had 20 good years left in her.
What’s the solution? I don’t know. Maybe stricter price caps meaning players can’t charge more than, say, 2500 coins for a non-rare Gold player. Or maybe keeping the challenges more vague rather than team-specific. Whatever it is, until it’s sorted I’d rather stick with my normal squad and leave the premium players to the virtual Abramoviches.
This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great PlayStation coverage, you can subscribe here.