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From Digital to Reality: The Making of FIFA 18 World Cup

Did you catch World Cup fever? We spoke with two members of the EA  Romania FIFA team as they released the FIFA 18 Word Cup update and made an excursion to Russia for the semifinal match-ups. Meet Alex and Ionel.

Alexandru Păscoci

Title: Technical Director, EA SPORTS Bucharest

Location: Bucharest, Romania

I have been with EA Romania for six and a half years now. As a big fan of football, I had the chance to work on FIFA for the entirety of my tenure, which seemed an impossible thought to grasp back in the days when I was fiddling with my first computer and playing FIFA Soccer 94.

I had various roles throughout the years, all within engineering, and recently jumped on the opportunity to be the Technical Director for the World Cup 18 project.

For the team in Bucharest, working on the World Cup update truly felt like a road to the World Cup: from watching final rounds of qualifiers together, to seeing what teams we would be including in the game, to refreshing community forums every other minute to check for reactions around announcement and launch. We were recreating the biggest sports event in the world, and it was an engaging and rewarding experience. We could really feel the buzz building at EA Romania- country flags were displayed from the ceiling, player posters hung from the walls, Zabivaka tournament mascots welcoming you to the World Cup development area.

To build something like our FIFA 18 World Cup update, we had to get creative with displaying the accuracy and feel of being in Russia. To embody the amazing fans, we studied and brought to life elements like the Icelandic clap, and crowd accessories like sombreros, Viking hats, or face paint. We had to keep up with tournament changes, like recreating the embargoed ball dedicated for the knockout stage or making sure we get Griezmann’s last minute haircut right for launch. And of course, we worked hard to find a way to include non-qualified teams in our update while still preserving the authentic experience for our players. I had a personal stake here, I must admit, as I am a big fan of Italy.

Finally, getting the opportunity to visit Russia and experience the matches live, together with the team, was terrific! It was a great ending to our World Cup journey.

Ionel Stănescu

Title: Line Producer, EA SPORTS Bucharest

Location: Bucharest, Romania

I have been with EA for over eight years now, working on FIFA for the past four, from the Bucharest office in Romania. During this time, I’ve worked as a Producer on multiple areas of the game: from Online to Ultimate Team, all culminating in my latest role as a Line Producer for the FIFA 18 World Cup update.

I have been surrounded by football and football games for as far back as I can remember, and it’s been great to get the opportunity to be a part of an amazing team that builds and delivers one of the world’s biggest games for what is, without question, the world’s biggest sport.  I couldn’t even imagine having this job when I was a child, playing my first football game on an NES console.

Being a Producer on FIFA is not an easy feat, but, by all means, it is rewarding!

Our players always expect the latest iteration of our game to be the biggest, most authentic and most feature-packed rendition of the beautiful game we all know and love.

From working with our design and engineering teams to come up with the next innovative features, to partnering with our licensing team to add more and more authenticity to our game, I was in charge of making sure we hit our milestones on time. And it’s been a wild rollercoaster ride with each new release!

The process to recreate the World Cup in FIFA 18 was no different! In fact, I think it was even more challenging as we strived to build the most authentic tournament experience ever. This was going on while certain details, references and guides were still being worked on by FIFA and the host country, Russia, for the actual tournament. For example, we were already building all 12 authentic World Cup stadiums in our game, while some of them were not even ready in real-life. Our team had to rely on blueprints, sketches and mock-ups to pull it off, all while hoping that nothing changed by the time the competition started. Luckily, everything was recreated flawlessly by June.

Once we released the World Cup update to all our players, I had the chance to go to the actual tournament in Russia, which gave me the opportunity to truly understand the scale and emotion generated from the fans. Just walking through the streets of Moscow, you would see and hear fans from all over the world, singing and celebrating football together. Mexicans chanting with the Croatians. English fans singing alongside Columbians. Nigerian and Japanese fans still singing and celebrating in the fan zones even though their nations were knocked-out of the tournament. It was truly a spectacle to see and something I’m excited to replicate closer in our upcoming titles.

All in all, working on the World Cup was a truly fantastic experience that helped me grow a lot in my role, while also making me love football even more!

Want to work at EA Romania? Join the team here!

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