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FIFA 20 update – fix for connectivity en responsiveness issues

The connectivity en responsiveness issues in FIFA 20 are a big problem, but EA SPORTS is working to get it fixed! This time for real. In this article you can read some of the steps they’re taking.

As you probally know, online connectivity is a complex set of interactions and often depends on the type of game you’re playing, the connection you have, the providers that service your connection and, of course, your location. These issues aren’t something that can be improved with a single patch. The solutions require careful consideration and prioritization. Optimizing for precise gaming at this scale is a unique challenge, especially in 1:1 gameplay scenarios that are core to sports and fighting games in which both players need to have all inputs and on-screen actions directly tied to what the other player experiences.

”We’re working on optimizing the online FIFA experience daily as there isn’t one single quick fix to this challenge. Not for any game, and especially not for FIFA given its size and scale. This is our challenge and one we’re committed to improving for all of you”

Here are the key terms and infrastructure we’ll use here and in future posts:

  • Button responsiveness: how quickly the game responds to your inputs.
    • Sometimes referred to as “input lag/delay”.
  • Input loss: when an input is performed correctly on a controller, but it is not reflected in-game.
    • Sometimes referred to as “buttons not registering”.
  • Game speed: when the online gameplay does not appear to be running at the expected speed.
    • Sometimes referred to as “playing on ice skates”, “game feels slow”, “playing in mud” or “players not getting enough traction”.
  • Temporary freezing: when the online gameplay freezes for any amount of time during a match.
    • Sometimes referred to as a “micro stutter”.

EA SPORTS have been actively working on these things, and there are often trade-offs that they have to consider when optimizing the game. For example, the game stutters when packets are getting stuck over the internet. EA have intentionally made the game more responsive over the years, which means that if you have a slower internet connection that you could see more stutters. They could artificially ‘smooth’ this out but that would result in greater delay for other players.

Below are a few additional areas they are working on to enhance the overall experience. Some of these will not bring immediate changes to the gameplay experience but it’s important to understand that there are many factors to consider.

Live Testing

Some connectivity and responsiveness solutions require live testing in order to gain a real-world understanding of their impact. We are in the process of setting up and conducting this testing with limited groups of key players. These tests will provide us with valuable data that will inform future actions taken by our team.  The first ones will be looking at button responsiveness and input loss. You can expect to hear more about some of these scenarios early in the new year.

Game Latency Investigations & Improvements

We are continuing to capture data through Gameplay Responsiveness surveys with key members of the community to better assist in latency investigations. Our most recent survey happened last week, and it is the third time we’ve run one like this since launch. The data generated from these surveys allows us to identify key areas of improvement and is helping to drive solutions around the topics noted above.

Data Centers

Since FIFA 20’s launch, we’ve added a new data center and moved 8 additional data centers to optimize our global network, which now consists of 15 locations across 6 continents. We’re currently investigating where it would make sense to add additional data centers in order to improve the matchmaking experience for as many players as possible. As we add more locations, we need to balance a trade-off between a higher likelihood of a good connection for a player and the size of the player pool connecting to each data center to help ensure optimal matchmaking.

Sometimes the data center that’s closest to you isn’t the one that’s going to give you the best experience. This is because some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t always move data directly from point A to point B.