FIFA 14 Ultimate Team Legends: EA's Matt Bilbey explains why some players have been chosen over others
When the new Legends addition to the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 14 was announced at Gamescom 2013, it was introduced by Electronic Arts' general manager and vice-president of Football Matt Bilbey and former stars Ruud Gullit and Freddie Ljungberg. Each had their successes and merits in the game, but it prompted many in the crowd to wonder why some players took precedence over others in gaining legendary status.
Pocket-lint had a chance to sit down with Bilbey to discuss just that, and he explained that when determining the first wave of in-game legends, his team had to start somewhere.
"The initial list was quite a topic for debate, as you could imagine," he told us.
"As a Spurs fan myself, there was a lot of bias at the time towards Spurs players, but we'll take a lot of feedback from our gamers. Part of is that the player has to want to be a legend. The good thing with a lot of legend players now is that they have kids, and like with Ruud Gullit, it was his son that said, 'You have to be in that game'."
So some jumped on board immediately, but others will take some convincing. Negotiations are ongoing.
"The initial starting list of legends will continue to evolve over time," said Bilbey.
"We hope to populate it with over a hundred over the years. Pele is one."
Like with the Ultimate Team players, in-game legends have to be earned by a gamer. And, as the EA boss explained, they will be part of limited-edition packs.
"They are limited edition cards that will release at certain points," he said.
"The different points in time we'll release them could be the player's birthday, it could be the anniversary of them scoring a hat trick in an important game. Over time, we will release them as special cards that go in packs, and we'll do an event around them, so there's a bio and an explanation of why that player has been chosen."
With such focus on multiplayer aspects like Ultimate Team, which has grown in scope and popularity over the last couple of generations, some might think that the FIFA team is shying away from the classic single-player modes. Far from it, claimed Bilbey, career mode and others will remain as long as a section of players enjoy them.
"There's definitely still a core audience; roughly 15 per cent of buyers play our career mode," he said.
"They are our most hardcore and loyal fans, so we continue to innovate and invest in our career mode because that's what we know they love. We'll never forget that, we'll never stop investing there.
"There really is a balance with FIFA to ensure that one size doesn't fit all."
It was also announced during the Xbox Media Showcase on the eve of Gamescom that FIFA 14 will be bundled with every pre-ordered Xbox One, whether placed when it was first announced or until stocks run out. And the next-generation FIFA is already getting plaudits for expanding on the current-gen version of the game, even though it has been seen only at an early stage. So the next generation is clearly important to its sustained popularity. As good as it may be, FIFA 14 on Xbox One is just the tip of the iceberg said Bilbey.
"In all honesty, it's very very exciting to be a games developer right now," he told us.
"Obviously, with Xbox  we've been pushing the limitations and expectations as much as we can, but now with Xbox One and everything that comes with it, it is just literally opening a whole new opportunity for innovation. It's going to be a very exciting next two, three and five years. Watch this space."