Pro Evolution Soccer lead claims EA Sports' FIFA outspends, copies PES

EA Sports' FIFA franchise established dominance over Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series by spending money and copying PES, claimed Konami's Jon Murphy in an interview with Eurogamer.

EA Sports' FIFA franchise established dominance over Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series by spending money and copying PES, claimed Konami's Jon Murphy in an interview with Eurogamer.

Murphy, PES team leader at Konami UK, acknowledged his game's previous shortcomings, but said that while the quality of PES is neck-and-neck with FIFA, EA's juggernaut maintains the majority of mindshare thanks to its marketing. "Opinion has turned against PES in a way that's been helped along that isn't necessarily born out by the quality of the product recently," he said. "There's an automatic assumption now that FIFA is just better."

As Murphy noted, this is the opposite situation from the previous console generation, where soccer fans recognized PES as the better game. But the series took a hit in the transition to high-definition systems — Murphy admitted that EA "invested properly in this generation of consoles" — and never regained its position. Still, Murphy asserted that PES doesn't get enough credit nowadays for its many innovations, which he accused FIFA of copying.

The way Murphy apparently sees it, FIFA can be examined on a continuum. "They've obviously gone from a game that was totally different from PES to one that started copying PES to one that started taking areas PES did well further into the product they have now," he explained, charging that the FIFA games' "long history of copying PES" is "how they got where they are."

"The only reason why FIFA is in the position it's in now is because of PES"

Where they are is the top of the sports gaming world, enjoying massive mainstream success. FIFA 12 became the fastest-selling sports game ever, with 3.2 million copies sold worldwide during its first week of release in September/October 2011 — the best launch week for any video game to that point in the year. With those numbers, Murphy noted that the "sales gap (between FIFA and PES) has grown," particularly in the UK, but he attributed a significant portion of EA's success to the money it spends on marketing and on acquiring exclusive licenses.

PES simply isn't as attractive as FIFA to soccer fans without many of the real world's leagues, clubs, and players. EA invests heavily in exclusive licenses and the relationships necessary to secure them, and Murphy said, "It should be pretty obvious that we can't compete with the massive budgets they have to throw at these things." He also implied an unwillingness on Konami's part to even bother negotiating — an understandable reluctance, since the company made what it believed was a competitive offer for the English Premier League license, but still lost out to EA in 2003. Since then, EA has gone so far as to deal with individual clubs.

Murphy wants PES players to understand his challenges and frustrations. It's not like Konami is being lazy, as some fans have charged. "The reality is, EA is a massive company with large chests of money [...] and we can't fight against that."

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