There’s little question that football is the biggest sport in the world, so it makes sense that the video games based on it are also some of the most popular. EA Sports’ FIFA series is the best-selling sports video game franchise of all time, and one of the best-selling franchises overall. The series continues to make constant improvements to stay at the top of its game, setting the bar even higher with each installment.
FIFA isn’t the only game in town when it comes to football. There’s another series that has played second-fiddle to Electronic Arts’ juggernaut for years, and in many ways it’s just as good. Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer (also known as Winning Eleven, PES, or Pro Evo) is just as good as the FIFA series in a lot of ways, and might even be better when it comes to certain features. The game includes many of the same world football stars, but because of licensing conflicts with FIFA it has had to get creative with its actual club names. So Chelsea becomes London FC and Manchester United becomes Man Red, and so on. It might not have all the teams, but the game has gone to great lengths to include longtime football legends, even enlisting Diego Maradona as a brand ambassador. Furthermore, what PES lacks in real-world branding, it makes up for in its pitch-perfect gameplay.
Pro Evo has long been the go-to franchise for football fanatics that obsess about a title being able to capture the minute details of the beautiful game. While FIFA is usually more accessible for the casual fan, PES breaks the game down to its most technical aspects for an experience that feels more like a football simulator than an arcade game. The passing mechanics for PES are considered some of the best video games have to offer, in addition to brilliant AI that makes the computer-controlled players on your squad feel like teammates that know how to play the game of football. Gone are the days of screaming at your television because a player refused to walk back onside, and in are the days of crisp through-passes to set up wonderful goals.
The passing and AI are the two features that truly help PES to stand out from its counterpart. If there’s one criticism that’s frequently leveled at FIFA from die-hard players it’s that the game can often be too easy, or that the speed and pace is more akin to an arcade game as opposed to real football. It shouldn’t be surprising that, for all its realistic improvements, FIFA continues to court the casual crowd. As a result, the franchise is part of a rare breed of games that are familiar to people with no interest in gaming thanks to their inclusion of the most popular leagues and ease of play. Football is a sport loved by millions of fans, and many aren’t looking for a nuts-and-bolts experience. They just want to score goals.
This is why casual football games are so popular. Evidence of this can be seen within the myriad slot reels available based on the sport that are included among the best slots available on the internet. These games feature modern day legends like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo, and Wayne Rooney, all of whom appear while fans hope to line up their favourite players and score the winning combination. These games are obviously quite different from the actual feel of a football match, but in many ways that’s where much of their appeal lies. Football is unique in that enjoys a worldwide level of popularity, and its biggest stars are recognized and cheered on across the globe. Because of this diversity of fans, there are also just as many types of games looking to cater to everyone, from the ultra supporter to the casual observer.
It’s unlikely that FIFA will ever be unseated from its throne as the king of the football simulators, but the sport is big enough to allow room for plenty of competitors. The competition may not have the wealth of licenses, but they are still able to cash in on the popularity of football thanks to innovative and winning gameplay.