Over the next couple of weeks, EA will begin releasing winter upgrades in FIFA 17 - these upgrades are also called January Upgrades, and are awarded to players who have had exceptional seasons so far. In the past, EA have released these boosted cards in batches, with one batch being released each Friday for a month.
How do these upgrades work?
Players who will be upgraded receive new non-inform cards (which will be available in packs for the rest of the year), and their old NIF cards are no longer available in packs.
These new cards will have higher stats than the old cards - one or more of the six card stats will boosted, as well as the overall rating of the card. These new cards may also receive a position change.
Their old NIF cards will not be boosted, but may retain their value if the new card receives a position change.
There are no bounds on how little or how much a card may be boosted. While the vast majority of upgrades have traditionally been +1, +2 or +3 upgrades, we have also seen players may receive anywhere from a +4 to a +25 upgrade (see Doka in FIFA 15, who got boosted from a 48 to a 73). However, large upgrade are rare, and should not be counted on.
Cards may also be boosted to another card type - non-rare players may receive rare cards, bronze players may be upgraded to silver, and silver players may be upgraded to gold.
How do upgrades affect special cards?
In the past, winter upgrades have caused special cards to be upgraded if the new boosted card has a higher overall than the special card, or if one of the boosted card’s stats is higher than the special card (this was the case with IF Murillo in FIFA 16, who received an upgrade due to a significant pace boost). The extent to which the special card is upgraded depends on the magnitude of the winter upgrade - if a base card is upgraded by +2, and the special card meets the criteria, then the special card is upgraded by +2 as well.
However, not all special cards may be upgraded. A bronze/silver player with an inform, who is upgraded to a silver/gold player, will not have their original bronze/silver inform upgraded - a couple of examples of this are Inaki Williams and Cheikh N’Doye in FIFA 16.
This is important to remember, as it causes the price of these bronze/silver informs to plummet, as the new upgraded card is better than the original inform.
It is also possible that the new boosted card does not exceed the stats on the original inform cards (i.e. it is of a lower overall, and all the card stats are lower). In this case, the special card is not upgraded. Historically, this has rarely happened, but this may be more common this year with the huge upgrades EA have been giving to informs.
Where can I find out who will be upgraded?
Simply put, you can’t. In past years, EA have based the winter upgrades on the upgrades made to players in career mode. However, the winter upgrades in FUT do not directly correspond to career mode upgrades - there may be players who are upgraded in one and not the other.
However, it is a relatively safe bet to assume that players who have received substantial career mode upgrades (+3 or greater), will receive FUT upgrades. In addition, top scorers of major leagues, young players who have set the world on fire, and players with two or more special cards, are all likely to receive upgrades.
How will the upgrades affect the market?
Upgraded NIF cards will initially go for very high prices - in the past, it was not uncommon to see a non-rare gold upgraded card going for 3-5K. Players who receive a boost from silver to gold often go for a lot of coins for the first few weeks - we saw this with Inaki Williams last year, or Jese in FIFA 14 (where his upgraded 76 gold card went for 40K for a week, before falling to 2K).
The non-upgraded NIF cards for players who have now received winter upgrades will decrease in price, as players scramble to buy the new upgraded versions. However, if the upgraded card receives a position change (e.g. from ST to LW), the non-upgraded card may hold its value.
Upgraded IF cards are a whole other story - in the past, we have seen upgraded IF cards drop in price immediately after the upgrades are released - this is due to many players trying to offload the upgraded cards, thus flooding the market. As a result, if you are currently in possession of inform cards that are likely to receive a winter upgrade, and you are planning on selling these cards, your best time to sell would be before the upgrades are announced, before the market is flooded.
What should I do to prepare for winter upgrades?
Based on the trends in past FIFAs, I recommend the following:
- Sell any informs you have invested in - their prices have increased dramatically over the past couple of weeks due to the hype, and their prices will drop sharply after they receive their upgrades. If these players do not receive an upgrade, their prices will fall even more sharply, and you will miss out on a lot of coins.
- Save any packs you earn - instead of opening your reward or SBC packs now, hold out for the first batch of upgrades. This is because in the first hours of the winter upgrades being available, even a 77-rated NIF gold upgraded card will go for several thousand coins. By saving up these packs, you are very likely to get an upgraded card, which will sell for far more than any non-upgraded card of the same rating that you would receive if you opened the packs now.