Electronic Arts are proud creators and owners of one of the most successful and remarkable video game franchises of all time. FIFA is by far the best-selling sports game in the world and is listed in Guinness World Records as such. The vast majority of football (soccer) aficionados have tested their skills in the most popular simulation of the game.
We decided to go back in time and analyze the evolution of the game from its very beginnings. How did FIFA take supremacy over all other football simulations, KONAMI's Pro Evolution Soccer namely?
Obtaining an official FIFA license
An agreement with football's governing body, FIFA, was the inaugural step towards industry domination. EA Sports have made a life-changing contract that has allowed them to control the most popular world leagues and competitions. The latest editions of the game thus contain clubs and leagues from countries from all over the planet, including the top two tiers of German, Italian, Spanish, English, and French football, among others. Even popular betting tips sites like bettingtips4you.com are using it to find some stats on players as the game is very realistic.
The main breakthroughs
An initial couple of editions were as basic and simple as you can imagine. Most of those who are playing the game at present times were not even born in 1994 when FIFA International Soccer was released. The maiden breakthrough came in FIFA 96 when you had the chance to see real names of the players you were controlling.
The next edition added indoor football and polygonal model for players. We then come to FIFA: Road to World Cup 98. This is also the first edition tested by the author of the article (in real-time), the one that will have a special place in his heart forever. Compared to earlier versions, it stood out for the significantly-improved graphics and a full World Cup schedule, including even the qualification rounds with all national teams.
The early 2010s marked yet another, more significant breakthrough. The FIFA series sold more than 100 million copies in 2010. The numbers (and profits) increased significantly in the following two years, as 2012 the most successful launch in the history of the game.
FIFA 16 was the maiden edition to introduce female national teams, following the petition initiated in 2013 by Vero Boquete, a Spanish professional player.
Nevertheless, the introduction of the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) has been Electronic Arts' smartest decision ever. They tested the waters with the new mode in 2009 only to see the numbers of active players significantly growing in the next decade. Thanks to this specific mode and the aforementioned agreement with football's governing body, FIFA holds the monopoly in the sports gaming at present times.
FIFA International Soccer is the first-ever game of a kind
The initial game in the series was launched just before Christmas in 1993. It was known as FIFA International Soccer or FIFA 94. It only included national teams and did not have real-player names. The 1994 World Cup made the game highly-popular across the globe, though.
FIFA 95 brought clubs from eight top divisions in the world to the game. The next edition was the first to involve 3D graphics in real-time on PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC versions. FIFA 97, with the stars like David Ginola and Bebeto on the cover, included indoor football.
We now come to FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 featuring the maiden tournament with a full package of licensed national teams. David Beckham, Paolo Maldini, Raul, and Andreas Moller were only some of the stars on the cover. This specific edition is also popular for being the first in which the offside rule was properly applied.
FUT introduced in FIFA 09
Besides the obvious improvements in graphics, none of the versions from 1998 to 2008 brought something extraordinary. After all, these were the years when FIFA was dominated by KONAMI's Pro Evolution Soccer. Many players argue that PES has always been a better football simulation than FIFA. Nonetheless, Electronic Arts have done an incomparably better job on marketing. Finally, the introduction of the FIFA Ultimate Team changed the fortunes around and opened up the doors for the EA Sports' dominance in the following decade. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar had the honor of featuring on the covers of most of the editions in this time-frame.
We also have to give a short review of FIFA 20, the first one to see a new feature called Volta Football. Overall, the gameplay was not significantly changed compared to any of the last five (or even more) versions, the fans from across the world loved the street-style elements involved in Volta football. The modes include 3v3 rush, 4v4, 4v4 rush, 5v5, and pro futsal.
Nowadays, we have professional e-sports teams who gather the best FIFA players in the world to compete on their behalf in the elite tournaments organized all over the planet. The online version of the game is unparalleled and there is currently no football simulation anywhere near FIFA in terms of popularity.