Over the past weeks many sources (The Economist & The Score) have highlighted the economics of swapping stickers, something which I spoke about on BBC Radio Five Live last week. Since nostalgia appears to be the order of the day, here’s some more for those of a particular vintage.
It’s probably safe to say that during my childhood in the late 80’s and 90’s computer gaming ‘went mainstream’ as consoles like the Nintendo, the SNES and the Sega Megadrive became commonplace in many households. After these 3rd and 4th generation consoles, that had a variety of football titles with different makers (Goal, ISS Deluxe, Sensible Soccer and of, course, Kevin Keagan Player Manager), the concentration ratio for football titles got an awful lot higher as Pro Evolution Soccer (a Japanese variant of ISS) and FIFA soccer, became the two dominant titles in the later generations of Playstation-N64 and Playstation2-Xbox.
Aligning yourself to musical talents, or sporting clubs is something that every teenager has experienced. For my generation you could add gaming franchises to list where one must draw an ideological line. The oft mentioned enquiry to this day is “whether you were/are a Pro-Evo or FIFA player?" The answer to this question sparks many a debate.
During my teenage years I was firmly a ‘Pro-Evolution Soccer’ gamer with many fond memories playing the latter titles on the PS1 and struggling desperately, with Castollo, Baroja, Jaric, Valeny et al in the Master Leagues for the PS2 releases. A tedious but character building exercise to say the least! As was the case with computer gaming before the dawn of the internet, there was little scope for instant gratification. Usually one had to put up with the psychological pain of restarting levels after hours of gaming investment. A quick google search for cheats and walkthroughs didn't exist (outside of a friends advice, the game manual was the only and usually hopelessly redundant source of information).There was always the chance you may not even complete the game!
Today with full internet connectivity FIFA soccer automatically downloads ‘team updates’ and possible strategies and tactics are mused online. Gone are the days of waiting for school to end so you could quickly get to Xtra-vision to collect your copy of ‘Pro’ (pre-booked might I add!) and begin the puzzle of inputting the players and clubs real names.It was usually the case that FIFA only had the rights to official names, shirts and crests.
Even though Pro-evolution was highly popular during the early to mid-noughties, FIFA, as the data below suggests, has been outperforming Pro-Evo for a long time in terms of sales. Lately the popularity of FIFA has surged. The data below is European sales (in millions) of both franchises over a twelve year period. For simplicity I only looked at titles on the Playstation platform, with the broken lines in the chart indicating the titles switch to a next generation console (eventhough you could still buy it on the old machine). While there were many older versions of FIFA and older variants of Pro-Evo the data is only really available from 2001 and was accessed here.
Pro-Evo appears to have had its heyday in the noughties and despite being outperformed by FIFA during this time in terms of sales it remains, in my opinion, one of the greatest football titles for its time.