FIFA is like the popular kid at school. It barely tries to impress, treats most people like crap but remains loved by everyone.
Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) is like one of those perfectly nice but awkward kids that resorts to giving away free sweets just for a moment of attention while always somehow remaining unnoticed.
According to analyst Daniel Ahmad’s Twitter feed, FIFA 17 has sold 40 times more copies than PES 17, having shifted more than 1.1 million units while PES couldn’t even reach 50k. It’s a pattern that been repeated in recent year. Here’s a few reasons why this might be:
Licences: While FIFA has the rights to all the official club and player names, PES has to improvise. Classic examples include: London FC (Chelsea), Hampshire Red (Southampton) and my personal favourite, Man Blue (Man City). Bonus example: back in the day Cafu’s name was Facu.
Peer pressure: If I went out and bought PES I’d have no-one to play it with because everyone else has FIFA. The EA Sports game has become the norm and it feels like this snowball is just getting bigger and bigger.
The name: I don’t have to go out and do a survey to know that about 99% of British fans call the beautiful game football, not soccer. This is a pretty serious deal. I have seen armies of keyboard warriors threaten anyone who disagrees. I think Konami would be taken more seriously if they called it Pro Evolution Football but I guess PEF doesn’t quite have the same ring as PES.
Game play: The fast pace and easy scoring always made PES feel like an arcade game while FIFA’s painstaking attention to detail, steady gameplay and genuine feeling of accomplishment after scoring gives it more of a simulator vibe.
Barcelona: The main selling point for PES 17 is its licence for Barcelona. As great as this is, it’s a well-known fact that if you’re playing with a friend or online and you pick Barcelona you will be labelled as someone with no skill whatsoever. I know this because I quite often play as Barcelona.
Soundtracks: Both games have always had decent soundtracks but FIFA always seems to have the edge by including more songs. This is especially helpful when you’re spending hours and hours playing career mode. Listening to the same 11 songs on PES while playing a 40+ matches season can become more than tedious.
From a personal standpoint I prefer FIFA simply because it’s something that I’m more accustomed to. The last Pro Evolution Soccer instalment I owned was 14.
As mentioned in my second point, FIFA is a game that’s played by all my friends and their minds are made up as much as mine. Even if I’d want to give the new PES a try I don’t really fancy spending £55 on a game I’m sceptical about, and there’s no-one I could borrow it from. There’s always demos but I feel they never give a big enough picture and feel of the game.
Can it ever change?
I have seen a lot of people on social media who don’t think FIFA 17 is that great. The main criticisms were that player statistics don’t work properly (Messi outjumping Ibrahimović for a header or Mertesacker keeping pace with Sterling?) and set-piece play becoming unnecessarily complicated.
Even the new ‘Journey’ mode has been criticised for being only one season long.
In addition, Pro Evolution Soccer 17 has received very positive reviews overall and its overall score was lower than FIFA only by a tiny margin.
Maybe this year could be the turning point in the football gaming industry where the unnoticed kid at school finally gets their lucky break….