Lost in Roblox’s Fifa World – Everything wrong with the metaverse in one place | FIFA

aRoughly every December across the UK, temporary winter wonderland parks pop up, usually in out-of-town car parks or abandoned industrial sites. They promise hours of seasonal fun with Santa’s caves and magical sleigh rides – but what frustrated families often get is a steady caravan of Santa covered in tinsel and two gaunt plastic-horned donkeys pulling a wheelbarrow. Imagine that, but online and with a little money behind it, you have the world of FIFA.

Advertise via Usually theatrical press releaseFifa World is a “virtual environment that celebrates the power of football and the rich history of its most important events”. Integrated into the highly successful online multiplayer game Roblox, which allows its 55 million daily users to create their own interactive areas (but has also attracted significant controversy due to its childhood creativity monetization business model), it’s a kind of virtual ball-themed game Football with crazy nine hole soccer golf course where you kick soccer ball through different obstacles to goal, bowling soccer challenge, where you kick soccer ball in some bowling game. Other than that, there is a small soccer field with a giant ball, so you can engage in impromptu matches with your fellow, sorry, visitors.

“A new and exciting online immersive experience for all football fans” – as long as they enjoy playing crazy golf. Photo: FIFA / ROBLOX

Playing these games earns coins that can be spent on various stickers and character customizations in a selection of convenience stores in the Social Hub, a large tent. I spent 250 coins on a box of random stickers and received, among other treasures, the official ball of the 1978 World Cup and also the country of Ecuador. Then I bought a special effect that makes bubbles pop out of my avatar when I’m running. Of course, there is also a facility where kids can buy coins with the virtual Robux currency, so why not? Why not just try to earn some extra revenue while they’re there?

The Social Hub is also where friends can “hang out” to watch very short snippets of football videos on a big screen. In the corner there is a booth where you can take a virtual photo of yourself with a virtual Jules Rimet trophy. This is Jules Rimet, a devout Catholic who hated football marketing. I’m sure he’ll be first in the queue at the Visa-sponsored sticker store.

Within half an hour I had exhausted the “experiment” and felt no urge to go back. I’m trying to imagine who would. Maybe if your kid has a lot of friends in Roblox, and has a passion for football and virtual environments with big companies, they will have fun. According to the Fifa World icon in Roblox, 83% of attendees liked it. I am happy for them.

FIFA World

To me, this is the perfect example of what the metaverse is likely to become: a way for tech giants to steal the marketing budgets of giant corporations eager to exploit their fan bases. Of course, it would never be formulated that way. In a FIFA press release, Chief Business Officer Romy Gay stated, “FIFA’s immersive experience on Roblox will provide football fans with a very new and exciting way to interact with friends, celebrate the rich culture and heritage around the world’s largest sports competition, and showcase their creativity and national pride through features and different mechanisms.

I didn’t feel like I was celebrating anything because I tried to kick a soccer ball through giant wooden wheels. I didn’t feel any connection to the sport as I had a short podium challenge in the clouds over the golf course, trying to collect two more coins in order to secure a poster for South Korea. Of course, football stars will get paid big for their images appearing in the game, to give the venue some semblance of authenticity. I have no doubt that famous Roblox and YouTubers will make immeasurably rich bank balances by “creating great content” in this miserable, hypercapitalized holiday park. Manipulating parasitic relationships will be another kick feature in the metaverse, you can count on that.

FIFA believes that such a multi-layered experience will result in a truly enjoyable and immersive game.  It's bowling, but with football.
FIFA believes that such a multi-layered experience will result in a truly enjoyable and immersive game. It’s bowling, but with football. Photo: FIFA / ROBLOX

When the lucrative licensing deal between Electronic Arts and Fifa fell apart earlier this year, FIFA President Gianni Infantino promised that the organization would now work with multiple partners to create the “best” interactive football content. Apparently, a new Fifa footie sim will come in 2024, although who will develop it and how they will compete with EA’s decades of experience and thousands of hours of physical modeling, AI coding and art asset creation has been a mystery. Before I saw Roblox’s Fifa World game. Now it seems like a completely ridiculous fantasy.

This morning I decided to take one last ride around the perimeter of the color map to see if there was anything I had missed. The game crashes and won’t let me back in. Perhaps FIFA has a heart after all.

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