Last November, Electronic Arts released their title FIFA World Class Soccer on GREE, garnering the top rank in popularity and a host of the GREE Platform Award. At Playfish Japan, EA’s department that co-developed the World Class Soccer title, we spoke with Mr. Satoyoshi and Mr. Nakata to get the inside story on the development of their mobile gaming hit.
EAインタビュー
Mr. Satayoshi and Mr. Nakata from EA
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the choice to release FIFA World Class Soccer on social networking service GREE and how that decision paid off.

Satoyoshi
We really wanted our game to be played by as many people as possible. When we were making plans to release a social game for the Japanese market, we chose GREE as a platform because of its overwhelming advantage in user numbers.

Nakata
Actually, if you release a game on GREE, you can reach lots of people who would might not normally play an EA game. In addition, GREE’s staffs provided us great objective feedback on our project, so it was really easy to make things work with them.

FIFA_WCS

What issues did you consider when you decided to adapt the console game FIFA series into a social-structured game?

Satoyoshi
FIFA World Class Soccer uses the most popular game mechanics in the Japanese social game market; it’s also quite compatible with the FIFA series, which involves lots of players. We were also very focused on how to translate the appeal of FIFA into something casual gamers could enjoy. The FIFA package games usually offer very realistic action which isn’t so easy to handle and geared first and foremost to gamers who are big soccer fans. But of course those aren’t the only kind of people who can find soccer fun and interesting. We had to think about how to keep the game authentic and realistic with a more simple game play that would appeal to a broader range of users.

Nakata
EA keeps tabs on performance statistics of soccer players from all over the world, which we were able to incorporate into the game. We build these data from real soccer match scenes, which I feel is a good way to add some realism. Outside of the actual matches, soccer fans also enjoy collecting their favorite players, and try to build their ideal team. So this game offers these kinds of fun.


So your game targets soccer fans in general, not just the core gamers. 

Satoyoshi
There’s a pretty broad range of intensity among soccer fans themselves. Even, say, people who don’t usually check matches or have a favorite club will still watch the Japanese national team when they’re in the World Cup. So of course we want to appeal to the core group, the diehard fans, but with something that more casually minded people can enjoy too.


This game has a kind of unique feature. You have an official character who interacts with players on the game forums.

Satoyoshi
I used to work at a PC online game company; we licensed foreign games and brought them over to Japan, that kind of thing. From my experiences with that, we learned that in online and social games, service is everything. When users are choosing a game, they decide based on the operating company, not the developer. So we feel really strongly that game branding relies on the quality of service the administrators provide.

When EA decided to make a social game with the FIFA brand, we thought about how to attract customers. We didn’t just want to make a game that people would play for maybe two or three years; we were thinking in terms of 10, 20 years. And to do that, we thought, we had to offer top-notch service. There was this idea we had of having close communication with the users, answering questions they had, and that’s how this began. The concept is like a Game Master in an MMORPG.


What kinds of titles can we expect from you in the future?

Satoyoshi
To be honest, before we released this, we thought it was going to be more like a niche game.  But we ended up getting the top ranking on GREE, a bunch of awards, and a huge player base. That isn’t just because we made our game accessible beyond that core of gamers I mentioned earlier; it’s also the strength of the FIFA brand, I think. As for EA, it’s not just FIFA; we have a lot of other franchises that do really well in Japan, and I think it’d be nice to try our hand at some of those.






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About the Author
Wataru Tanaka is the chief editor of Social Game Report and writes about mobile social gaming. He works at Mynet Japan, a social game developer. His vision is to create worldwide network and enhance the industry, take it to the next level where everyone can enjoy communicating each other through games.