While the FIFA game series continues to be one of the highest-selling of all time, with FIFA ’18 breaking sales records last year, it’s fair to say that very little about the game format has actually changed since the original 1993 release. The content, controls, and add-ons have of course improved tremendously over the past few years, but the original gameplay experience is essentially the same.

While some people may tout this as one of the most attractive aspects of FIFA, especially since despite its static format, the game continues to feel immensely enjoyable and fresh, it’s worth comparing the series to the leaps and bounds that other major franchises have underdone in the past couple of decades. Someone playing a Resident Evil game twenty years ago would scarcely recognise any of the latest releases, which make use of VR, AI, and ultra-HD graphics. The same can be said of any other major game franchise, bar FIFA.

While the game itself seems to exist in a development vacuum, this might not be the case forever. One of the greatest recent gaming innovations, augmented reality (AR), has the capability to completely transform how we play FIFA in the future. Here’s how.

Augmented Reality: The New Normal

Augmented reality games, which integrate audio and visual content into a player’s physical environment in real time, usually via a smartphone or tablet, have been on the rise recently. The most memorable example for most people will probably be Pokemon Go! which has been downloaded close to a billion times and has permanently left a mark on popular culture.

More than just a quirky outlier augmented reality gaming looks set to become the new normal. As Lottoland’s evolution of video games shows, augmented reality goes hand-in-hand with virtual reality (VR) as the logical progression from console gaming, and the numbers clearly bear that out. With AR gaming proving so wildly popular, it’s unlikely that developers such as FIFA‘s Electronic Arts will be able to resist the tide.

How FIFA Could Adopt It

It seems that the organisation FIFA has already had a brief flirtation with AR technology. During the 2018 World Cup, a small group of researchers at the University of Washington partnered with Google to launch the “Soccer On Your Tabletop” application, which used AR to beam live football matches directly onto your living room table, in 3D. While the release was more of a gimmick than anything else, its popularity showed that football and AR can work as a pairing.

This development has drawn attention to the possibility that FIFA could release a version of the game which allows miniature matches to be played out in real environments anywhere, at any time. The technology is already there, and FIFA could potentially make a killing.

Will It Happen?

Whether it will happen and FIFA will, in fact, end up releasing the next Pokemon Go! is another story entirely. While the potential AR FIFA could have as a title is huge, EA may feel perfectly content with the model they already have, which is clearly working. This may change in the near future though, as rumours are swirling FIFA 19 sales in slump. Only time will tell.