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Konami’s atrocious eFootball won’t get a 1.0 launch until spring

A 20-year-old franchise backslides into NBA Elite territory

screenshot of a glitch in eFootball; the goal keepers arms are wildly distorted Image: Konami Digital Entertainment/Konami via Steam
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Konami’s eFootball launch already blew up on the pad, and now, if possible, matters are even worse.

A title update to add the former Pro Evolution Soccer’s staple modes of play, like Master League and Be a Legend, now isn’t launching until spring 2022, Konami said Friday morning. Assuming that’s March, eFootball’s conversion to a free-to-play game will be stuck with game modes more befitting a demo, and a barebones roster of just nine teams, for its first six months.

“We have been working diligently towards distributing an update that will bring new content to the game,” Konami said, “including a new mode where you can strengthen and play with an original team.” This update was originally supposed to launch Nov. 11.

“Unfortunately, we have concluded that more time is needed to deliver the product in the quality that will meet the expectations of our users,” Konami said. Meantime, title update 0.9.1 was rolled out on Friday “to fix numerous bugs sequentially on each platform.

“We will continue to improve and update our game,” Konami promised.

The monthslong delay also means Konami is canceling preorders for one of the few premium items under eFootball’s new format. Anyone who bought the 2022 Premium Player Pack, “which includes items that can only be used in-game after the update,” is getting a refund, Konami said. No action is required on these customers’ parts, “but please note that it may take time.”

That said, anyone who pre-ordered the pack has to re-download the entire game (unless they acquired it through Steam). That means PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, or Windows PC through some channel other than Steam, where eFootball became the worst player-reviewed game of all time one day after launch.

“We apologize for the inconvenience,” Konami said (the third use of that word in Friday’s statement). “Please note this should not affect existing play data as long as you are using the same account.”

screenshot of a glitch in eFootball. The match official is face down, pressed into the pitch, while a Chelsea player applauds
There is no better visual metaphor for eFootball.
Image: Konami Digital Entertainment/Konami via Steam

Pro Evolution Soccer/eFootball is one of the few video game series Konami is developing five years after parting ways with Hideo Kojima, shutting down its catalogue, and focusing on pachinko machines. The company changed PES’ name to “eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020” in 2019, skipped the next year to reinvent the game, and planned a multi-stage launch for the free-to-play eFootball beginning Sept. 30, 2021.

PES’ bigger and more popular modes, Master League and Be a Legend, were supposed to come later this fall. (That is, maybe; the content roadmap Konami offered in July vaguely said two unnamed modes would open up in autumn.) Of course, those were likely to be sold as optional DLC, with the base free-to-play mode being one-off matches and online multiplayer.

eFootball launched Sept. 30 with swampy, unresponsive controls, bewildering visual glitches, and cutscenes featuring disfigured players. On Steam, it has 22,958 reviews total, 20,220 of them negative. Its ill-conceived reinvention and hurried, glitch-filled, and abortive launch resembles the demise of NBA Elite 11 more than a decade ago, a milestone catastrophe that effectively destroyed that series as a console game.

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