EA has confirmed that FIFA 21 will not feature VAR or empty stadiums. In real life, opinion has been widely divided over the use of VAR, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world has meant packing stadiums to the rafters with thousands of fans is next to impossible.
The use of VAR within EA's next gaming sim would have been an exciting feature, regarding how the studio could simulate the technology within the gameplay. Still, undoubtedly, the absence of simulated empty stadiums is a positive move, reinforcing the importance and passion the fans represent in the real world, and virtual.
During a recent virtual preview, FIFA 21's line producer Lonel Stanescu said: "Every year we set out to make the most authentic football experience possible,"
He added that the studio "wants to make sure that we express football in its best and purest form. For us, that means crowds in the stadium, because that's what the sport is all about."
Stanescu assured that as a result, fans would "still get the full-on broadcast experience of a regular football match. Full-on crowds, authentic atmosphere, and so on."
Meanwhile, on the subject of VAR, gameplay producer Sam Rivera ruled out its inclusion within the next FIFA sim. He said: "In a videogame, what it would be adding to the experience isn't very important at this time – the system knows if a challenge is a foul or not, so we decided to focus on areas which we consider a higher priority.
However, Rivera added: "That doesn't mean it won't arrive in the future, but there are no plans to include it in FIFA 21."
FIFA 21 is due for release on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC for October 9, before launching on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, coinciding with the next-gen console releases at Christmas.