Without competition, radical improvements in football games will be slow to trot out.

EA’s latest deal with the Premier League is great business.  Not only does its logo appear on match officials’ clothing and next to on-screen stats in televised games, it allows EA exclusive access to the players, clubs and stadiums until 2019. FIFA is the only place you can play in a fully-licensed EPL. Turns out, this is actually a bad thing.

While EA has the big licences on lockdown, gamers only really have one choice if they want authenticity FIFA. The monopoly on the big leagues has kicked every rival off the pitch. Konami’s PES could contain the greatest game engine around, but the choice comes down to whether you want to play as West London Blue or Chelsea.

The head-to-head sales of both games tell the story.What it means is that  EA Sports could rest on its laurels and it would still sell gazillions. I’m not suggesting it will, just that it could. Without serious competition, radical innovations in football games will be slower to trot out onto the pitch. One of FIFA 15’s new features is that the net will lift a little off the ground when struck with a fierce shot.This isn’t innovation, People.
But it works both ways. Konami has the Champions League and the South American showpiece, the Copa Libertadores licences. We suspect PES also has the Brazilian licence too, which EA announced it had lost recently. For us players, we’d have to swap discs and learn new mechanics just to compete in these different competitions. It’s fair like your average de Jong reducer.

hoop dreams

Look at the way NBA 2K has risen to the top of its game. EA’s NBA Live has the same licences from the league, but Visual Concepts has focused solely on gameplay mechanics that leave its rival with broken ankles. And then take a glimpse at the documented slide of Madden over  the years. Without any competition to lock horns with for so long, the NFL series has started to go stale regardless of official content. 

FIFA and PES will fight their battle forever. But the only way we benefit is if there’s a level playing field that forces the best from both.

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