FIFA 21 will tackle "toxicity" by benching at least 2 goal celebrations
Sam Rivera, lead gameplay producer for EA, explains to Inverse why two celebrations were removed from FIFA 21.
When FIFA 21 is released on October 9, 2020, players won't be able to party like they used to.
EA Sports will remove at least two celebrations from the game for "toxicity" reasons, the game's lead gameplayer producer told me last month — and a few more beyond those two will also be nixed.
Sam Rivera, lead gameplay producer for FIFA 21, told me during a press preview in July that at least two celebrations will definitely be gone when the new entry in the soccer game series is released when I asked which celebrations will be removed.
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"There are two celebrations that were removed. The first one is the 'Shhh,'" Rivera said, holding his index finger to his lips. "The second one is the 'A-OK.'"
(The 'A-OK' is known as the "Challenge" celebration made popular by Tottenham Hotspur player Dele Alli, which only lasted a season. As Kotaku commented, the A-OK symbol has been used by white supremacists, though Alli's celebration is sort of an inverted version of that symbol.)
"What really matters is we reduced the time that you have to celebrate," Rivera says. "We removed the 'walk-back'; so after you score a goal, there was a celebration, then a replay, then you saw the player move back to the kick-off spot.
Developers are also reducing the time players have to wait for the kick-off. The same time reductions are being put into effect for corner kicks, throw-ins, and free-kicks.
"We are really focusing on making sure the flow of the game is short"
"We are really focusing on making sure the flow of the game is short and then just to the point: playing the game," Rivera says.
Rivera did not offer an explanation for why those two celebrations were removed but shushing the crowd has been discussed as an extreme diss — for years — to the other player in online forums about the game. Doing it in real-life sports is a bad idea and is used by racists as a way to dismiss the voices of others. Bleacher Report calls the shush "the most annoying running celebration out there."
As for the celebration made popular by Dele Alli, it's unclear.
Perhaps there is some internal data that shows it wasn't all that popular; Perhaps the developers realized it was just a fad and there's something better with which to replace it. Perhaps, like a lot of us, they're just bored of Dele Alli.
A rep for EA Sports says the company is still working out which additional celebrations are being removed, saying the development team "is still finagling the game."
What is clear is that the game will have fewer stoppages between play. If you've just been scored on in a particularly effective style, in FIFA 21 you will not have to wait to see your opponent shush you, and then have them take what feels like an extremely long amount of time before the next kick-off. That was the standard in previous entries.
The move is one of several interesting improvements coming to the franchise when FIFA 21 is released in October. The speed of the game, the dribbling, the skill moves, and player intelligence — timed runs into the box! — all appear better in a presentation developers gave to the press in July.
Read more about FIFA 21 on Inverse in the coming weeks, as EA has embargoed the release of new information about the game's various modes — Ultimate Team, ICON, Career Mode, and Volta — throughout August.
FIFA 21 will be released October 9, 2020.
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