Rectify Gaming

How The Football Game Landscape Is Changing Rapidly


Posted on March 29, 2022 by John Lambert

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For as long as there have been video games, there have been football video games.

The earliest Atari systems used a rudimentary football pitch for a bat and ball style game, and ever since, developers have sought to cash in on the popularity of the sport. On 8-bit machines, titles such as Football Manager by Kevin Toms did very well, whilst Dino Dini’s Kick Off series also had commercial success. In 1993, EA Sports linked up with the world’s governing body, FIFA, to release FIFA International Soccer. A gaming legend was born, a title that would reshape how the public digested football video games.

Away from consoles, other games did make a big splash, namely the management simulation. Football Manager is still going strong today, and whilst the lure of scoring the winning goal in a cup final drew players to FIFA, Sensible Soccer, or Kick Off, the joy of managing a team over a full season had fans drifting to their laptops. The current incarnation of Football Manager started life as Championship Manager on the early 16-bit home computers. It affectionately became known as ‘Champ Man’, until a split between developer and publisher saw the game given a rebrand as Football Manager. Even today, fans spend hours, days and even weeks trying to keep Derby County in the Championship or take their local non-league team to the Champions League final. That’s no easy feat by the way; Derby are favourites for relegation in the current Championship betting odds on Ladbrokes, and not even the great Wayne Rooney is on course to keep them stay in the division. The real attraction of management simulations is doing what the professionals cannot do, and maybe even guiding the ailing Derby to the Premier League.

Whilst Football Manager is really the only game for management buffs, there were two main games dominating dedicated football action sales by the turn of the century: FIFA and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, shortened to PES. The two battled for supremacy, with PES suffering from a lack of official licensing but often boasting the better game engine. It was a battle FIFA seemingly won, with PES disappearing altogether last year. EA’s reign as the only contender on console will be short; they make more than $1.5bn per year from FIFA, according to Look Charms, but their revenue could be hit badly next year. Why? Because not only is the new incarnation of PES hitting online shelves, but there’s an entirely new football game heading our way. In addition to the increased competition, EA Sports relinquish the FIFA title after their FIFA 23 release, meaning they will lose the branding which has made them so popular. Can they hold onto their crown and beat off the competition too?

Konami’s eFootball has a horrific launch, perhaps as bad as Cyberpunk 2077. Gamers were left wondering what had happened to the title, as it failed in performance, graphics and options. Eventually, they pulled the title and have put a lot of work in behind the scenes, but there’s still a damaged reputation to be repaired, and that can’t be done with a patch or some basic promo work. They did have the attractive European Championship license, and there’s some belief they may even pick up the FIFA license, and the even-more lucrative World Cup tournament for 2026.

The big threat to FIFA could be UFL, an upcoming release poised to be free-to-play, much like eFootball. EA Sports currently charges upwards of $50 for a copy of FIFA, digital or physical, but the new games are hoping to monetize differently. United Football League, or UFL for short, is already backed by several big clubs, including West Ham United. The biggest USP is that they’re aiming to make it a fair platform for all, not a pay-to-win approach as FIFA is. Top FIFA players spend thousands of dollars on their team before they can compete, but UFL hopes to offer everyone a fair chance to accumulate a decent team. However, it is unlikely you’ll be able to save Derby County on the pitch; instead you’ll be building your own brand from the bottom up.

It all adds to an interesting couple of years ahead for the football game market. With FIFA’s rebrand, eFootball lurking with improvements and a new kid on the block vying for supremacy, gamers will once again have a wide choice available to them, not just on their mobile devices.

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John Lambert is a racing lover at heart - in fact, he could consider himself a frustrated motorcycle racer. With a dad as an auto mechanic, John has been enlightened in the world of automobiles and racing at an early age. Thanks to his writing degree, John has been using his writing skills to write everything about cars, motorcycles, racing, and everything in between. And hopefully, when he earns enough, he can buy his own motorcycle and go pro

About The Author

John Lambert

John Lambert is a racing lover at heart - in fact, he could consider himself a frustrated motorcycle racer. With a dad as an auto mechanic, John has been enlightened in the world of automobiles and racing at an early age. Thanks to his writing degree, John has been using his writing skills to write everything about cars, motorcycles, racing, and everything in between. And hopefully, when he earns enough, he can buy his own motorcycle and go pro