When EA announced FIFA 19 during its annual E3 press conference last month, the company confirmed that (then) Real Madrid and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo would be the cover star. The game’s boxart, announcement trailer, and many other promotional images for the game also featured Cristiano Ronaldo in the Real Madrid kit. But since E3 2018, the soccer star has switched teams.
As the World Cup semi-final between France and Belgium took place, it was confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo would be playing for Juventus next season, in a transfer worth €100 million (approx. $117 million USD). While the move was monumental, many immediately began to question what this might mean for FIFA 19. The game’s marketing is built heavily around Cristiano Ronaldo and fans wondered whether EA would need to reshoot promotional images for the title in order to reflect the big transfer move.
While promotional images may be able to be tweaked with some deft usage of Photoshop, the way that Cristiano Ronaldo is included in FIFA 19 itself will also have to be adjusted. In FIFA 19: The Journey (FIFA‘s version of a story campaign), protagonist Alex Hunter joins Real Madrid and a major plot point is that Hunter will be playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. EA could change the content so that Hunter joins Juventus instead, but this could take a significant amount of development work. Or, it could leave the story as-is, risking falling afoul with fans who complain about the inaccuracy.
EA typically releases post-launch patches to improve the FIFA games and address any roster changes that may have occurred towards the end of the transfer window. These patches even change gameplay, with FIFA 18 changing shooting and goalkeeping gameplay with one of these updates. But while a delay on these fixes may be acceptable, having the game launch with Cristiano Ronaldo as a Real Madrid player may not be so forgivable. EA boasts the realism of the FIFA series and that means it has to get it right across the board – especially when it comes to big money transfers of one of soccer’s most well-known names.
Admittedly, any failure to implement changes is unlikely to have a heavy impact on FIFA 19‘s launch sales. FIFA 18 saw 1.6 million concurrent players during its launch weekend, in a reflection of the series’ dominance and popularity. FIFA 19 is expected to do similar numbers. But given how important the FIFA franchise is to EA, the company won’t want to do anything that upsets fans in the slightest.
FIFA 19 will release on September 28, 2018 for PC, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One later this year.