There’s nothing I like better after a hard day of doing IBM’s and Mrs A’s bidding than sitting down to a spot of FIFA 10 on the Xbox 360. With great graphics and excellent game-play it’s a must-have for anyone who owns an Xbox and likes football (note, ‘football’, a game played with a ball and the feet… not played with an egg-shaped thing while wearing body armour). Plonk me down in front of the big plasma screen with a snoozing puppy on my lap and I’m happy. But there’s trouble brewing in the games room at Adams Towers…
FIFA 10 has ‘manager mode’ – you pick a team and manage them for fifteen seasons, during which you buy and sell players and (if you choose to) play the matches. If you win you earn money, which allows you to improve your squad, your staff and your stadium. Starting off with a Premier League team isn’t much of a challenge… so I started off with the local team of my childhood, Brentford. If you don’t know, Brentford are in the third tier of English football, otherwise known as League One (yes, I know that doesn’t really make any sense). I inherited a fairly average squad, and after four seasons they’d conquered the Premier League, won the F A Cup, the League Cup and the Champions League. And despite having a pretty awesome squad I was looking forward to bringing in some even bigger names when the transfer window opened. However…
To cut a long story short, the game started locking up after the matches had been played. In fact the whole console locked up so I’d have to power it down and then turn it on again. The game hadn’t saved the progress, so I’d have to play it again… it would lock up again, so I’d have to play the match again… and again… and again. Sometimes I could play three matches without a problem (and progress a bit) and then it would lock up continually and I’d play the same match six or seven times over. Fed up with this, I searched on the FIFA 10 forums – several people had reported this, but there was no resolution (remember that, several people had reported this problem). I’d turned auto-save off just in case it was having an issue at the point of a game-save, but to no avail. So I contacted the support team at Electronic Arts…
During a live chat their support specialist told me to delete the saved games… but that means I’ll lose all my progress, right? No, because I should back them up onto a USB drive, and then copy them back over. So, back-up the files, delete them, and then re-instate them? Yes. Hmmm. He also told me to clear the Xbox’s cache. I did all of this and it made absolutely no difference.
Maybe my Brentford career had some sort of corruption – I saved the career as a new saved game… that didn’t work. I bit the bullet and started a new career, this time with nearby team Reading. Season one went smoothly, I won the Championship, the F A Cup and the League Cup. At the start of season two the problems started again. I contacted EA support again, not as a live chat but as a discussion-style support incident. I explained the problem, and received exactly the same copy-and-paste answer as last time (even though I’d explained that I’d already tried their original suggestions which they had a record of). I explained that I’d already been through these suggestions, and asked for them to be honest… was there a fault in FIFA 10? Remember, it’s not just me seeing this.
A few hours later I received an update, and it was another copy-and-paste answer, this time suggesting that there was either a problem with my game disk or my Xbox. First the game disk – it’s in pristine condition, there’s no smudges or scratches. Oh, and the game itself is installed to the hard disk which means that during game play the game disk isn’t used. Problem with the Xbox? Let’s look at the evidence – no other game has a problem, it’s just FIFA 10 and the problem always occurs at a precise moment (after a match has been played, just before the man-of-the-match screen is displayed). If there was a problem with the console wouldn’t game problems be more random? I put these thoughts into my next reply, and this time added fifteen links to pages and forums where other people are having the same problem. It’s now twenty-four hours since EA’s last response – maybe they’re looking into it, or maybe they’re just hoping I’ll go away.
Electronic Arts… there’s clearly a problem with FIFA 10, so have the guts to admit it. Even if in admitting it you tell you that it’s not going to be fixed, then at least I’ll know not to waste any more time on the game. Maybe the problem will be fixed in FIFA 11, but if they think I’m going to cough up £40 for another FIFA game they are seriously misguided.
Here’s some news… I’ve isolated what causes the lock-up problem after a match. FIFA 10 has a bug, and I can now reproduce it… and avoid it.
It’s caused by the man-of-the-match. If the player who is man-of-the-match is one of the eleven on-field players when the match ends, the game doesn’t lock up. If the player who is highest-rated (and destined to be man-of-the-match) is substituted, then the game freezes just before the man-of-the-match is shown. You can check the player ratings during the course of the game so it’s fairly easy to isolate two or three players likely to be man-of-the-match.
I’ve tested this theory in eight matches played this evening, and correctly predicted whether the game would progress or lock each time.
So, it’s not corrupted saved games, nor is it a game disk or Xbox problem… FIFA 10 has a bug which is reproducible.
Update to the update:
EA support told me (eventually) that they’ve escalated the issue to a higher level and “hopefully a patch to fix this will be out soon”. Hopefully. I been saying “hopefully I’ll win the lottery soon” for a few years, but it hasn’t happened yet.