With a new dawn approaching, PCN leadership has made a decision regarding how we want to handle FIFA 22 and the console-generation changeover. Like any major decision we make, we wanted to gain an understanding as to what our community wants. We are aware that regardless of the decision, members of the community will feel hard done by. We accept this and are going to be as transparent about our decision as possible.
I can assure you, every single person who was in our meeting explored every avenue as to how we wanted to handle this. We do not take this kind of decision lightly.
Since PCN began 5 years ago (Happy belated Birthday, PCN! 🎉), Ricky has been adamant about ensuring we always put the community, and what is best for everyone, at the forefront of our decisions. You all are what makes this organization what it is today. We wanted to write this to convey that we have been toiling over this for some time. Before we dig into the decision, we wanted to address some of the themes we saw in the feedback provided from the poll, and the poll results themselves.
I personally read through every single poll entry, all the responses, and created a list of the items we received in greater abundance than others. We hear you and this feedback is very helpful and appreciated.
Below are the main feedback items (in no particular order) and how we plan to address them:
1) Timely Awards – I know there have been delays. This will be, and is being, addressed–I do not want to be an organization that over-promises and under-delivers, so I hear you. I will take responsibility for those delays. The last year has been one of the most difficult years in this organization’s history. From Dorsey stepping away to work on himself to launching and maintaining the new website, we all were overworked, but there is no excuse. We will be better about this moving forward. In an effort to make this a more expedient process, I have enlisted CM9 PT to be PCN’s historian. CM9 is a brilliant person and cares about everyone’s PCN story as much as his own. He will be assisting me in ensuring the stats are entered in a timely manner and tracked appropriately. We have also brought in Austin and Ll0yd Braun to work with CM9 and I to handle stat auditing, as you may have noticed. I am making this a point of emphasis to ensure these are out as quickly as possible moving forward and so we hit our own deadlines. You all want timely content and you deserve it.
2) More Community Engagement – We have had users who wish for us to have more engagement within the community at large. We have been meeting with the team and are going to create more engaging content for you all as members of our community. What do I mean by this? Well, the poll was the first step in engaging the community further in the decision-making process. We also want to provide more transparency, more Career Mode-esque content–because that’s what this is, an IRL Career Mode. However, we also want to have more events, including a PCN meet up (at some point). Point is, we want to be more engaging with our community. We are going to be meeting weekly to find new ways to market players better, provide better insight into what is happening in and around the leagues, and have a few fun things planned, as well. If you have any ideas you want to convey, my DMs are open.
3) There is difficulty in breaking into the league as a new player/no real “welcome to the community” resource – This is one we have wanted to implement for some time. Something like a welcome to PCN packet or mentor program/concierge system would be ideal. Someone/people to let new folks know how things work here, what to look out for, who to know, and provide the proverbial lay of the land. We will be meeting in the coming weeks to explore ways to better welcome people into this community. Again, my DMs are always open. Please reach out if you feel there is a great way to make this happen.
4) Managers/Admins and the Rules
– Most of the feedback we received was geared toward knowledge, this is no different. Managers want to be provided more instruction and want to better understand our rules. Players and Managers (even admins) want a revision on the rules, so they better reflect the trajectory of the league, clarify some grey areas, or just are laid out better for their digestion. Having these key items laid out in a digestible way will help managers on their path rather better than telling them to read the rules on their own without guidance. We are going to go through our rules and edit them, as some are outdated or leave areas for unintended outcomes to be discussed. We all want these to be updated, so it is going to happen.
5) Allowing Super League-caliber teams in League Two – I know this is a hot topic, one that we have attempted to address using budgets in the past. Frankly, we do not like the idea of higher-quality players going to League Two to play and would like the community to be against it and make it unacceptable. We also want to address this, and while the answers may seem easy (Place a salary cap; Deny the signings; etc.), it is much more difficult and complicated than that. We have not wanted to implement the items suggested because it involves the league more in the decision-making process about where players go or do not go. While that seems like a good idea, that is a very slippery slope. Keep in mind, we want what is best for everyone, not just L2 (but also L2). So, how do we force players to play in a league they do not want to play in when they do this for fun? Or, let me rephrase that, how do we, as the league, keep players out of a league we do not want them to play in without bias? The answer is not a simple one, but it is not impossible. We are going to be more strict about the manager selection, specifically in L2. We have, historically tried to be conscientious about this, but I think we did what we could at the time. We need to be better, and we will be.
The remaining items are not abundant, but are worth addressing, if only because they can provide clarity to the community.
1) “TOTW/TOTS/TOTY is all about who you know!” – This is false. Good players usually play with good players and those good players often play well. You know what gets them on the shortlist spreadsheets for TOTW? Playing games and playing well in those games. I pull the stats and only do so by games played by position. I then add PER to the spreadsheet so the voting committee can see the PER of the individual. The voting committee then votes on who they think is best for the week. It is a vote where no one can see anyone else’s votes and we take the top vote getters and put them into TOTW/TOTS/etc. If there is a tie, we take it to a deliberation stage where the voters can make a case for those who had the same number of votes. It is time consuming, but it is not rocket science. We do also have conversations with voting members who have suspicious votes for players who were clearly not the best at their position statistically (like someone voting for me when another CB led in every category, for instance) to determine the rationale. If you are not in TOTW/TOTS/etc. and you believe your stats are good enough, make sure your stats are entered correctly by your manager. If your manager is not putting them in correctly, I suggest you encourage them to do so; we will too. I would much rather new players win. So, go out and give us someone to root for.
2) “Schedules favor big teams” – This is false. I use a schedule randomizer to generate our schedules. The only changes that are made are related to the Marquee Matchups, and those are only the times; no dates are altered. The only games we manually add are for Cup draws (which are also randomized).
3) “PCN needs a way to rate your interactions with other Players/Managers” – I agree. I thought this was a known function of the website. Apparently, not. When I designed the player/user profiles, I built in a rating system in hopes people would use it to give an honest account of one’s encounters with that person. If you are interested in rating PCN folks, Head to the website -> Hover over the upper-right-hand corner dropdown named “My Profile” and click on “Members” on the dropdown -> From this page, search for the person you wish to rate and hit enter -> When the user’s profile pulls up, hover over their profile and at the top of their header image, you will see a ⭐ -> Click the star and review the Player/Manager/Staff Member. One thing I did not plan on was people only giving 5 stars. Rate people honestly, don’t troll, and you will build a rating system based on actual experiences.
4) “There is a lack of work ethic or responsiveness from the admins and staff” – This was referenced several times and it is very concerning that the community, if only a small subset, believes our staff are not working hard. I can personally attest that the current staff members are working seemingly non-stop to bring you all the best competitions, the best experiences, and the best-run league in the World. I know it is not always easy to see what is being done by staff, and that is, in part, on me for not being as forthcoming on things they do, but we are looking to change that moving forward. I know it is easy to look at your signing not being done and think things are not being worked on, but we get on average 100 transactions per week on a slow week and we all have lives and work. We appreciate your patience with us and want you to know we do care about your signings, your teams, and your players. We understand the pressures of being a manager in any competitive, non-paid esport/sport and it is not easy. Let’s continue to work together to make this league better.
The Pathway Forward
I know why you are all here, but I wanted to provide some transparency about not only the biggest concerns, but also to provide you with a decision.
The Poll Data:
The results of the data collected indicate that each segment of our player-base would, by-in-large, want to move to next gen or already has a next-gen console, save for <6 months users.
When tallying these data, we can glean that:
- ~65% of people who have been here for 1 year+ (two segments; 1-2 years and 2+ years) would like a move to the new console. This ~65% represents those who already have the new console, plus those who will be buying ASAP and selected will be buying ASAP in the “If PCN switched to next gen, I will” question.
- Of those who have been with us fewer than 12 months (two segments; <6 months and 6-12 months), ~50% of people surveyed will be getting it or already have the new console.
Given the sample size and the results, we are going to need a next-gen experience in some way.
We discussed several options forward, based on the user feedback. These included: creating an isolated “bubble” season (hybrid), staying on old gen, and moving to next gen. All options have their benefits and shortcomings, which we toiled over ad nauseum. We discussed the potential alterations needed for each potential move and their impact and there was only one clear answer.
We have decided that, based on our options and their effects, and the potential risks, that we need to move forward to the next-gen console, not stand still or move backward. Even though a subset of the population will be unable to play, those players all have the desire to move to the new console. By staying back on old gen, the potential brand and community impacts are too large to ignore.
However, this does not mean we are going to leave the old-gen folks out in the cold, either. We know everyone wants the new gen, so we can work with them, posting regularly any outlet that has a console for sale at a reasonable price. While everyone seems to blame a chip shortage, the fact is, the Series S is readily available on the market at MSRP. So, while we know most want the Series X, we cannot ensure the community buys the latest and greatest at the risk of our organization; it is our job to move when it makes sense for our community to do so. It is impossible to say that our community does not want to switch based on the majority of the votes, when the most entrenched and engaged groups clearly do. We need to do what is best for our community and our organization holistically.
We had a few people say that we did not get enough people to respond to make this determination. That “80% of people in PCN want to stay on old gen.” That is not how sample sizes in studies work, but I applaud the effort. We had over 350 people respond to this poll, which given our size and active player-base, is well within range to make an adequate decision.
So, what do we do for the 35-45% of folks who do not have a new console or are waiting on us to tell them to buy one? Well, we can assume, based on previous data from VFL, that roughly half of the people who said they will have to sit out will likely find a way to buy the new console. Even if it is less than 50%, we can assume a large portion will at least purchase one in the coming months–we know they want the new console, and are planning to buy one. Otherwise, they would not be here. If they are dedicated enough to playing competitive FIFA, they will find a way. In my experience in business, it is rarely good to make strategic decisions based on a minority segment. So, why not a hybridized version of the leagues? The answer is we are going to have options for you if you keep reading. I know many of you are upset, but please continue.
Since we have not had a console switch in our 5-year history, I wanted us to look at the organizations who have, and have learned from their own experiences, so that we might also learn from them. All of the organizations who have been around long enough to have gone through a console migration are making this move. That is telling. We cannot look at our current brand and commit to something, even if only for 4 months, when the game’s new features are almost exclusively next gen. That would mean a watered-down experience, and additional money spent for those who do have the new console, which equates to ~65% of the population in PCN. Either way, folks are going to be angry at us; we know this, and except it as part of our duties.
Lastly, we have a rare opportunity here to turn this into a positive. See, people may not have the new console, but they are going to get the game. So, in order to keep the old-gen portion of the community engaged and part of PCN, we have decided on a few things:
1) We have created a partnership with NiceCactus.gg – This is a company who wants to create tournaments using their player pool and our player-base to have North American cash tournaments without any out-of-pocket expenses from the players. This means we will run 1-to-2 cash tournaments per week with a cash prize strictly for old gen and new gen (two separate tournaments, obviously). This allows us to keep those who are not able to get a Series X|S engaged, as well as pick up any old console stragglers from the advancing leagues. More on this as we finalize the details. Look for the first event to be August 30th.
2) We are looking to run an old-gen league (could be run at regular PCN times) with the LNL admin staff, during the LNL offseason, which is old gen only. This keeps those players engaged and gives old-gen folks the opportunity to transition at their leisure to the new-gen leagues. This also keeps the stats and contracts intact for PCN’s main branch of leagues. We want this to be a fun, but competitive way of playing, so this could be a draft style league or we can make it BYOT or similar. This does allow Series X|S players who get the ultimate edition to participate in this, as well.
This has been an extremely difficult decision. This was not a decision made by Caz and I unilaterally. We have promoted several members of staff to our Leadership Team and asked them to help us make this decision as the Voice of the Community. We hope that you will take the time to applaud them for their promotions to PCN leadership. Those members included: Snowboarder778 (Director of Special Projects), Oswald (Vice President), CM9 PT (Historian), Polo Garre (Head of Media), HeKn0w (Head of Technology), Unisolated (Head of Project Management), and Ll0yd Braun (Business Development). Obviously, Cazbon, Dorsey, and I were involved, as well.
We hope you understand why this is the chosen outcome. We also know there are many who are upset. But for the sake of the community as a whole, and the brand, this is the correct strategy.
If you have concerns or questions, my DMs are open.