The last FIFA of Electronic Arts, does an era definitively end?

The last FIFA of Electronic Arts, does an era definitively end?

The last FIFA of Electronic Arts

In 1993, Giuseppe Signori was preparing to become the top scorer in Serie A, but the championship was won by the Milan of Fabio Capello and Donadoni, Costacurta, Massaro. In 1993 the king of Rome was Abel Balbo, while Trapattoni's Juve was supported by the enthusiasm of Di Livio soldier and the qualities of a certain Roberto Baggio. In Europe, the best-selling console was the Sega Megadrive, the most popular games Star Wars: Rebel Assault, Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Kart, Street of Rage II, Lemmings and Sonic The Hedgehog 2. But at Christmas, things changed: on the 15th December arrived in the stores of FIFA International Soccer, an exclusive Megadrive, and in a few weeks the sports game that was supposed to replicate the American success of John Madden Football in Europe became a megahit, changing the world of simulated football forever.

Let's take a leap forward nearly 30 years and what would become a lasting partnership is about to end. EA and FIFA have not found an agreement to renew the image rights and EA Sports FIFA 23 will be the last video game to bear this name. Is it the end of an era?

Fifa: before and after

Fifa International Soccer: a debut that made crazy numbers for the era Of football games up to that moment we had already tried many, at home and in game room. Unforgettable were Microprose Soccer, Krisalis' Manchester United, the hilarious Nintendo World Cup; without forgetting the prehistoric RealSports Soccer for Atari 2600 or the iconic Peter Shilton's Handball Maradona and Emlyn Hughes International Soccer. Games mainly Western, English, but with some precious Japanese attempts: Tecmo made a lot of money with sportsmen, he had an almost complete line, and SNK in 1992 started the excellent Super Sidekicks series, then discontinued in 1996. But the kings, those who vied for the title of football simulators, were two: Kick-Off and Sensible Soccer. In 1993 especially the latter, which with the Sensible Soccer International Edition version was de facto the best football game in circulation.

A new 2D

Fifa 96: the first Fifa on PlayStation left something to be desired, but it was enough to make us imagine what sports video games would become in the future FIFA International Soccer but it was different: more friendly in the controls, with the ball attached to the player instead of a separate entity to be continually tamed towards the opponent's goal , and above all more spectacular. Up until that moment, football games could essentially exploit three different types of views: the so-called bird's eye view, from above and from the side. While the game Electronic Arts had the intuition to use an innovative, at least for the genre, isometric view. Several isometric video games had also come out in the 80s, from Q * Bert to Marble Madness, but it was in the 90s that this type of graphics reached maturity thanks to masterpieces such as Viewpoint, Syndicate, SimCity 2000, Diablo. And of course FIFA International Soccer, which thanks to its isometric graphics and the official FIFA license became an essential purchase for all fans, and not only, of our national sport.

Rivals from start to finish. end

Goal Storm: Konami's first 3D soccer game wasn't particularly good looking either. And what strange footballers, they look like skittles Impossible to celebrate the almost thirty-year career of FIFA by Electronic Arts, not to mention its direct competitor. While EA is busy developing FIFA Soccer 95, another football series that is destined to make history debuts on Super Nintendo: International Superstar Soccer. What will soon be amicably renamed ISS is Konami's second attempt, after Hyper Soccer for NES, to create the most visually realistic soccer game around, and it succeeds. As gameplay it is not up to the EA game, but stylistically International Superstar Soccer is unrivaled: the home of video games at its peak makes the difference, with mind-boggling animations and a soft and realistic color palette, ISS attracts attention. of the public who still don't know what Konami has in store for them. The Japanese company is in fact engaged on several fronts: it carries out ISS by releasing two other versions in just three years, including the wonderful one for Nintendo 64, while it is secretly working on another nextgen football game: Goal Storm, in Japan known as World Soccer: Winning Eleven. Goal Storm comes out on PlayStation a few months after Fifa 96, both are completely in 3D (but the first in this field was Actua Soccer) and promise a revolutionary gameplay.

The Japanese resurgence

FIFA : FIFA president Gianni Infantino wants to license the best football game possible. Which is a way of saying that the problem, again, is money. But who can take the place of EA? And this is how a rivalry destined to make video game history begins. There are no such exciting and long-lasting feuds in this area as the one between Fifa by Electronic Arts and Winning Eleven / ISS / Pro Evolution Soccer by Konami. In these first years on PlayStation it is FIFA to dominate, but the fault lies in part in the title chosen by Konami which, as often happens with Japanese developers, begins to overlap the names of its various football series, creating a useless and counterproductive among Western users. confusion. Iss Pro, Iss Pro 98, Iss Pro Evolution, Iss Pro Evolution 2 and finally, only in 2001, finally and simply Pro Evolution Soccer: for friends, PES. While in Japan the two ISS and Winning Eleven series have always been kept well separate, we have experienced paradoxical situations in which ISS 98 for Nintendo 64 and ISS Pro 98 for PlayStation were sold with the same cover, where Carlos Valderrama reigned, despite being two completely different games. But people noticed it with surprising speed ...

The rebirth passes from England

Gary Peterson: who better than one, or rather two Englishmen, to return to dominate the virtual field video games? Despite the increasingly aggressive production effort of Electronic Arts that from FIFA 98: Road to World Cup onwards begins to rewrite the very aesthetics of football, Konami games, even without licenses and hit-parade soundtracks, are climbing the slope becoming the only possible choice for true football lovers. At the turn of the new millennium, FIFA was for those who could not do without real athletes, and Konami products for those looking for a deep gameplay able to simulate, even with its proverbial unpredictability, the game of football. In 2003, Pro Evolution Soccer 3, with the Italian referee Pierluigi Collina on the cover, this time also eliminated the advantage of FIFA commercially by starting an overtaking attempt that began to alarm Electronic Arts. "PES was the main inspiration. I could not think of another sports game capable of recreating such varied, unexpected and exciting situations", Gary Peterson tells the British newspaper The Guardian, the same Gary Peterson who in 2005 is put in command of the Electronic Arts series.

Ball possession

Fifa 08: for the debut on PlayStation 3, Electronic Arts is more ready than ever In 2006 the Italian championship was won by Inter of C.T. Mancini, captain Zanetti and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the peak of his physical form; in second place, but spaced with 22 points was placed the Roma of Spalletti, De Rossi and Totti, the latter top scorer of the season with 26 goals. On the back of this postcard from the past, we find FIFA 06 and its desire for redemption which, however, in that edition and the next will be limited to the Xbox 360 version only, the only nextgen console in circulation and the only one able to benefit from all the innovations introduced, starting from a new powerful graphic engine. With FIFA 08, Electronic Arts is ready for its debut on PlayStation 3 (but there will also be an interesting version for Nintendo Wii) with a game that is beautiful to see and play. The arrival of an Englishman like Gary Peterson, one who has grown up with football, in a team of almost all Canadians, begins to make a difference; by his own admission, it was in 2008 that the series stopped chasing its Japanese rival to start growing and improving on its own.

Ultimate Team!

Fifa Ultimate Team: a mode that has revolutionized the genre, and that has made many furious At last FIFA is a great game not only to see, but undoubtedly also to play: the great comeback begins on PES. Fifa 09 is the best FIFA ever and among its paid content stands out a new mode destined to play a fundamental role in the growing success of the series: FIFA Ultimate Team. It seems incredible today, but Ultimate Team paid for separately and so it was until FIFA in 2011, when EA finally realized that making it free would have dramatically increased the packs of virtual stickers purchased by users.

Ultimate Team is a simple, diabolical and brilliant idea: it's like a Panini sticker album, but the players you find in each pack can be deployed on the pitch against other users. Over the years the system has been enhanced and in some areas profoundly modified, often with the aim of maximizing the purchase of new "stickers" by players. In Europe, Holland and England among all have accused Ultimate Team of hiding predatory gambling mechanics for the little ones, and dangerous for the adult users. Legitimate doubts, but that will not bea> able to stop the rise of a terribly well thought out mode, for better or for worse absolutely irresistible.

Total domination

Fifa 21: Fifa is now an integral part of the Western culture The revamped gameplay, super sharp graphics and now Ultimate Team, teleport FIFA to the next level. Now even those who have never wanted to give up Pro Evolution Soccer are forced to keep an eye on the game of their rivals. In the 1910s, it was Konami who started chasing Electronic Arts, combining so many messes that PES created an irrecoverable identity crisis. These are the years in which every PES is welcomed as if it were that of the potential redemption, and someone actually goes close to it, but the distances between the two games are becoming increasingly unbridgeable. This is also the decade of the great and unbearable license battle: Konami steals Cristiano Ronaldo's Camp Nou and Juventus from Electronic Arts, and in 2019 the UEFA Champions League leaves PES to reach FIFA. The problem is that if the industry leader takes the exclusivity, the public tends to be more compliant; when, on the other hand, those who pursue the less popular product do so, the same people feel cheated. For a Konami already in dire straits and its football title, it's the beginning of the end.

The ultimate football, but for how long?

FIFA 17: The Journey mode it turned out to be pretty good, but they didn't believe it all the way through Vittoria netta? It depends on the point of view because in the meantime FIFA no longer knows what to invent to offer its users something new, as long as they really need it and we begin to doubt it. A good idea arrives in 2017 with The Journey mode, clearly inspired by the career of the only game capable of rivaling the popularity of FIFA: NBA 2K from Visual Concepts under the aegis of Take Two Interactive. In the last five years, however, something has changed. The imprinting of Gary Peterson and the decisions of David Rutter, another true Englishman in command of EA's sports battleship, continue to grind results, to choose the best soundtracks, to find brilliant partnerships such as the very latest that sees Ted Lasso in Fifa 23, but there is a clear feeling that this idea of ​​simulated football, the same one that Konami and Electronic Arts have built together all these years, has come to the end of its evolutionary run. Yes, defense and attack can always improve, the animations multiply indefinitely, the faces of the players become more and more photorealistic, but the game will essentially remain the same. Maybe there isn't another way of thinking about simulated football, or yes?

Beyond video games

Fifa 21: a game that has even changed the television rules of sport Apex or not, FIFA has changed the world of video games as much as that of real football. For some time now, TV match highlights have featured directorial cuts similar to those featured in the EA game; commercials anticipating a particularly important match are mounted on songs that have often been part of FIFA's OSTs. And according to what some scholars say, young football fans who grew up with video games struggle to support a ninety-minute match on television, and that is why for some years now we have been thinking of reviewing the duration and division into times of matches. It seems incredible that after all this, having achieved such influence, FIFA 23 will be Electronic Arts' last FIFA. The license will end up in someone else's hands, but who is there? FIFA will therefore continue to exist but it will no longer be the game we knew, and undoubtedly the next one will also be much less beautiful and rich than the EA one because you cannot create a football game from scratch and immediately hit the mark, you need investments to lose and iterations for at least three years. The old FIFA will become EA Sports FC, but will it be able to keep the swagger granted by a truly irreplaceable license?

Goodbye past, welcome to the future!

Fifa 23: "Football must be left on time, before he leaves you. " Pelé Doubts about the future aside, with EA no longer having the FIFA license and Pro Evolution Soccer becoming eFootball, an era has definitely come to an end and leaves us a way of thinking about football video games that will remain forever. Even if one day, and it is possible, a totally different new game formula will take over, FIFA and PES will continue to be pillars of the history of video games. With all due respect to those who think that sportsmen are children of a lesser god, or even irrelevant for the advancement of the medium.

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