Nick Channon doesn't look like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He comes across as a rather affable bloke with a cheeky grin and relaxed, drooping eyelids. But as the Line Producer on FIFA 13, Channon is one of the key figures overseeing the game that represents a huge chunk of his employers' annual revenue.
FIFA 12 sold 3.2 million copies in its first week, making it the fastest selling sports video game of all time. It's since shifted well over 10m copies. That's a tough act to follow in anyone's language, but Channon doesn't sound in the slightest bit nervous. "To be honest, it comes down to our team - we're more driven to make a decent game than anything else," he says.
Now consider this: every change, every tweak, every tuck and every addition to FIFA 13 has the potential to lose audience members. This isn't to say players will automatically switch to the competition - Pro Evo is nowhere near being a threat to FIFA's dominance yet - but any change that doesn't sit well with FIFA's growing audience runs the risk that players won't automatically update to FIFA 13 from last year's iteration.
It helps, then, that FIFA 13 builds on the impressive foundations of its predecessor, although it has to be said that if FIFA 12 was, as its publisher repeatedly stated, "revolution, not evolution", FIFA 13 is distinctly the opposite. Perhaps due in part to the looming end of this console generation, FIFA 13 is a refinement more than a giant leap forward, filling out and improving on ideas from yesteryear, rather than overhauling things completely.
This year's big new feature is FIFA 13's new First Touch Control mechanic, which promises to lend the game a more unpredictable nature than in previous FIFA entries. In FIFA 12, for an example, a long pass would find its way onto a player's boot as though the ball and boot were magnetized. Now players will have to allow for bounces, weather conditions, players entering their personal space and the overall skill level of the player they're controlling in order to successfully control a lobbed pass.
"It's not just about taking poor touches," says Channon, "This is just a way more realistic way to see and play football. It's all about implementing a limitless variety of outcomes all over the pitch."
First touch takes some getting used to, as players need to be aware more than ever of opponents running up on them. A mistimed chest or touch by a defender can plant the ball firmly in the path of an attacker and open up an easy shot on goal. Furthermore, if they have the required skill level and speed, a player can knock the ball around an opposing player and sprint straight past them.
Alongside this new game-changing feature, FIFA 13 boasts a brand new attacking AI, new free-kick options, better dribbling controls - based on FIFA Street's dribbling engine - and a new physicality in the gameplay, which allows for more aggressive, body-checking play when it comes to the battle for possession of the ball. All of these features have been well documented in first-look coverage, but FIFA 13's longevity with a lot of players is based around its Career Mode, which EA have been tight-lipped about... until now.