Matt Prior: World Cup atmosphere is the crucial ingredient
© FIFA.com

In just a few days, 20 virtual footballers will make virtual football history when they journey to Brazil and compete in the FIFA Interactive World Cup during the actual 2014 FIFA World Cup™.

To mark the historical moment, where the real and virtual FIFA World Cup will come together for the first time ever, the FIWC 2014 Grand Final will be played on the official EA SPORTS 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ game, released worldwide in April. FIFA.com travelled to the source of the World Cup game and sat down with Matt Prior, the lead producer of EA SPORTS™ 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. Matt shared his insights, ideas and tips on the game that will decide the next FIFA Interactive world champion.

“The World Cup is a very exciting, flamboyant tournament and we wanted to bring that into the game,” Matt told FIFA.com, “You will find it’s a much more responsive, open and exciting game.”

“Practice, Practice, Practice!” were Matt’s first words of advice to the Grand Finalists. “Don’t just rely on your FIFA 14 abilities to get you through. You need to reinvent your game plan. What you learnt on FIFA 14 might not work on the World Cup game.”

Matt also urged finalists to focus on set-pieces. “Corners are more powerful now. You’ve got more control than ever before,” he said. “You can pick pre-defined set-piece moves like crowding the box. It adds an extra-dimension to set-pieces."

The game developers also did extensive work on the penalty kicks system for the 2014 release. Their efforts won’t go unnoticed by Finalists looking to master all aspects of their game. The gold medal match has been decided by penalties twice in FIFA World Cup history (1994 and 2006) and once at the FIWC Grand Final (2012). “It’s a battle of wills,” said Matt, “It’s this sense of tension. Who will keep their nerve? We added elements to bring that in.”

The Grand Finalists have submitted their two national teams for the tournament, which the FIFA Interactive World Cup on Facebook has been revealing on a daily basis. “If there’s one that stands out as a bit of an eye raiser I would say Belgium.” Matt said, considering his personal top two. “They’ve got a great goalkeeper, and of course Vincent Kompany and Hazard. They’re quite a young and fast team. It’s one of the two teams I would choose. I think man-for-man Argentina is a better team than Brazil so I could see finalists picking them. There’s plenty to choose from in this game.”

It wouldn’t be a World Cup game without the crucial ingredient, the World Cup atmosphere. “That’s such a fundamental part of the world cup game,” he said. “It’s as much a celebration of culture and people as it is football. We did a bunch of things to capture that for this edition. From the outset we wanted to capture the individual identity of each stadium.

"We’ve also got these crowd-at-home themes where we cut back to places like London's Trafalgar Square and the Colosseum in Rome and you see fans watching the game on the big screen! We wanted to show the importance of this game worldwide. When a World Cup game is on it’s not just about the fans in the stadium; they’re just a tiny sliver of what’s going on. Cities and towns all over the world grind to a halt while everyone watches the World Cup!”

“We also added a beginner difficulty level that is the most open version of FIFA we have ever made. It really allows you to take a breath and get to grips with the fundamentals," Matt said, as he showed FIFA.com the new feature. "It's a level that allows you to start having fun from Day One. The thrill you get from shooting, scoring, saving and celebrating… these are the core things that make FIFA so much fun,” he said. "It’s very much an entry level. The idea is to work your way through the difficulty levels and game modes to find one that gives you a challenging experience, like the FIWC.”

The FIWC will be streaming live from Rio de Janeiro! Visit the dedicated Grand Final page for more information on the live streaming for the FIWC 2014 Grand Final.