FIFA 15 Is Really Broken On Mobile

FIFA 15 Is Really Broken On Mobile

FIFAis best known as a console and PC game, but EA’s hit soccer franchise has had a dedicated mobile audience for years now too. Some fans have had a hard time enjoying FIFA 15 Ultimate Team since it arrived last month for iOS and Android devices, however, because it’s been marred by technical issues.

Like its predecessor FIFA 14, the new game has been well-received by fans and critics at mobile-centric sites like Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer. But as is too often the case for sports games like this, the actual high quality gameplay has been overshadowed for some players by their inability to access it in the first place. Judging from player reviews posted on the iOS app store and Android’s Google Play store as well as comments posted on various gaming forums including EA’s own channels, mobile FIFA fans have run into a number of performance issues when trying to play the new Ultimate Team. While the specifics are diverse, a core problem is with the stability of the game and its servers — something that affects people’s ability to access different parts of the game (or access the game entirely), link it successfully to their Facebook accounts, and retain progress and in-game currency they have acquired.

One particularly frustrating FIFA issue experienced by some, including Deadspin’s Tim Burke, cuts off players’ connections right at the end of a match, thereby failing to register the match’s successful completion. This has wider ramifications for the game because, like many popular mobile titles, FIFA 15 Ultimate Team has microtransactions and in-game currency. It’s also a sports management game, which means that an important aspect of its gameplay that players sink a lot of time and energy into is building a team full of their preferred players. To build and maintain a team, you have to spend either coins or “FIFA points,” the two types of in-game currency. Points are the one type of in-game currency that can be purchased with real money: $0.99 for 100 points, $2.99 for 300, all the way up to $99 for 10,000. These two different types of currency are then used to acquire players by either purchasing packs of cards and hoping there are some good players inside (think drafting in Magic: The Gathering), or seeking out individual players on the game’s “transfer market.”

Points are a much more valuable form of currency. It costs 700 FIFA points (a little less than $7.99) to buy a “gold pack”, the snazziest set of cards available on the game’s marketplace, for instance, while the same pack would run you 35,000 coins. Money isn’t just required to get players, either: you also need to spend coins to maintain the “contract” you have with any given player every time you put them out on the field. These contracts vary in price depending on the skill level and ranking of the player. The best way to earn coins, meanwhile, is by successfully completing matches or selling off players. Burke explained to me that he can usually get 500 coins for completing a match at this point. The last two players he sold off got him 200 and 150 coins respectively. The cost of the requisite contracts to deploy players can, ideally, be offset by the coins earned at the end of a match. But if you don’t manage your team effectively and deploy too many high-level players, you could very well end up coming up short at the end of a match.

If all of this sounds exceedingly complicated, that’s because it is. There’s a reason that FIFA fans glom on to this game the same way they do with the console releases: it’s a complex sports simulation game that requires tactful planning, high level strategy, and constant management of resources to master. And that’s if everything works properly. If the game drops out right before a match is finished, that means that you lose any opportunity to gain currency back after being required to invest it just to start the match.

In other words: the instability of the game has made it so some players are left stuck in a bind where they’re consistently losing the very resource required to keep playing the game.

If the game drops out regularly enough, therefore, it becomes effectively unplayable. This issue is undoubtedly frustrating if you’ve lost the time and energy you’ve invested in grinding through matches to build up a solid roster of players. But player grievances are intensified if they have spent real money to expedite the whole team-building process only to find that they’re suddenly stuck in a position where their in-game currency is being depleted for arbitrary technical reasons — if they’re able to even play the game in the first place. It’s difficult to tell how many FIFA 15 players have spent real money on the game, and how much money those players have spent. But people have written comments on both the iTunes and Google Play store saying that they have lost players and progress after spending real cash to get them. Some claim they haven’t even received FIFA points after purchasing them.

When I contacted EA about the issue, they said it was difficult to pinpoint the exact source problems here. A representative from the company wrote me Tuesday to say: “Long story short is that it is very difficult to tell the genesis of these complaints (i.e. 3G/4G or wifi issues vs game issues).”

“We did find a minor issue affecting a small percentage of users causing them to drop before the game completed but it has since been fixed,” the EA rep said. “And at the moment we’re not receiving complaints about servers for the iOS/Android games.”

EA’s representative was speaking specifically about the servers, not other potential issues with the game. But I found his last statement about the company no longer receiving complaints perplexing all the same. All I had to do was skip over to FIFA 15’s reviews on Google Play and iTunes to see players writing about their frustrating experiences just trying to get the thing to work on their respective mobile device:

As you can see from the dates listed, some of these comments were posted as recently as Monday. In certain cases, players have reported experiencing more problems with the game’s performance since it was last updated — particularly on Android. I downloaded the game on my iPad and Android smartphone yesterday to test out the respective versions. While the Android version seemed to run fine, I couldn’t even start playing the iOS version of the game on Tuesday night because every time I tried to open up the app, it got stuck on the “connecting to server” screen.

It’s also worth noting that these comments show that players still genuinely enjoy FIFA 15 Ultimate Team when the game is working for them. Indeed, many of the most critical comments are nested in glowing praise of the game and the improvements EA has made to the series since FIFA 14. And the new game has retained high marks in terms of its aggregate rankings on both iTunes and Google Play since it launched last month. As is often the case, these player complaints seem to be coming from a place of love more than anything else.

I reached out to EA to ask when exactly the fix was implemented to get a better idea of the timeframe behind its updates on iOS and Android. I also asked if the company was issuing refunds to players who had either lost stuff they’d purchased with FIFA points or not received FIFA points in the first place. We’ll let you know if they have more to say.


  • Thanks for posting it and contacting EA atleast. I have been playing it on Android since FIFA 14 was launched. The problems/downgrade of 15 from 14 is that they have removed Origin login. Which could have solved some problems like security question could not be created error happening to many people including me since the game was launched. Offline game modes like Manager Mode, Kick Off have been removed. The worst thing for me is they have removes everyone’s favorite Skill Moves. I damn miss those. All this was avail in FIFA 14 but why they have downgraded it?
    Android don’t have Multiplayer (Online Seasons). Playing with bots isn’t the best thing to do always when the iOS users are playing it.

  • Cutting out mid-game is frustrating, especially if you’re spending money for points. I don’t do that, but it sounds awful. When you’re not spending money, losing a game’s worth of contracts hardly makes the game “unplayable.” It’s pretty easy to acquire a fat stack of coins within a day or two just by playing the transfer market correctly.

    What DOES make the game unplayable – literally – is when the app can no longer connect to the server and the only solution is to reinstall the app. You could be 50 or 100 games into a campaign, with a first-class squad built up over that time and then lose it overnight.

    Who wants to play something like that?

  • I wonder if the author has heard any more from EA. I play on a Nexus 7 running android 4.4.
    Here are a list of the bugs / issues that I observe DAILY.

    1. When first touch is enabled, players will randomly perform a hard first touch to the opposite direction they are facing. Once it happens, every player on my team that touches the ball will do it. I have to pause the game, go into squad, then back out to stop the problem…Until it starts up again.

    2. The transfer market prices do not update accurately. A product will say that a higher offer has been received, but the price doesn’t change. I have no idea how much to bid when this happens.

    3. The transfer market tutorial keeps popping up after everything I do while managing my transfer lists.

    4. When you set a tactic via the club manager, like pressing, for instance, you can never go back to zone defense. There is no way to disable tactics once enabled. You can only switch which tactic is enabled.

    5. Random game crashes.

    6. Missing items in the transfer list. Once put up for auction, players and items, will not show up as “listable” after the auction ends. However, if you “relist all expired” items, they show up as being for sale. This persists until the item is purchased.

    7. Switching doesn’t usually transfer control to the player closest to the ball, or to a player sprinting toward a through pass.

    8. Switching players causes the player you just switched to, to stop moving for a second.

    9. Status * Callid – These errors can vary and have caused me to have to delete all of my data on two occasions.

    10. EA Servers have improved, but are still glitchy. Just two days ago there was some issue with the transfer market that caused the game to crash repeatedly.

    10. EA Tech support is absolute crap. The first line tech team are not helpful at all. The second tier team that will “call you back after your case is escalated”, never does. Personally, I don’t think they exist.

    That’s most of it in a nutshell. The game is fun, but error filled. I wouldn’t advise spending any real money on it.

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!