For more than a decade, Konami has been forced to admit defeat when it comes to official licensing for its soccer video games. The EA Sports partnership with FIFA rendered it almost impossible for Konami to secure sufficient licenses. Without licenses, commitment to authenticity becomes difficult. However, since its move to the cross-platform eFootball series, it appears to be making fresh headway in the licensing stakes.
eFootball could lead genre in authenticity
For some time, Konami has been battling for Serie A licenses. Currently, four of the teams in the current Serie A season feature as fully licensed clubs in eFootball 2022. Furthermore. AC Milan looks primed to become the fifth for next season. The Rossoneri are back at the top table of Italian football. The club is said to be within a shout of landing their first Scudetto since 2011. They hold a two-point advantage over rivals Inter at the top of Serie A. However, their city neighbors have a game in-hand. This explains why Inter remain -360 favorites in the Serie A 21/22 futures market with FanDuel Sportsbook, which recently expanded into its 15th regulated US state for sports betting.
Comme July 2022, AC Milan’s “exclusive marketing partnership” with EA Sports FIFA will cease. The lack of exclusivity opens the door for eFootball 23 to strike. Konami has already struck lucrative deals with Rome-based clubs Roma and Lazio, as well as Juventus and Atalanta. As a result, EA Sports changed the names of these Serie A giants to Roma FC, Latium, Piemonte Calcio and Bergamo Calcio respectively.
It’s common knowledge Serie A side Napoli has withdrawn its exclusive marketing partnership with EA Sports. The deal expires at the end of the current season. It’s been some time since an EA Sports game lacked official licensing. In FIFA 22, a few generic kits came under fire by criticisms made from fans. With FIFA likely to lose more exclusive licenses, EA will need to maintain appeal despite generic kits.
Mexico’s top-flight becomes the latest to break free from FIFA
Liga BBVA MX is the top league of Mexican football. It recently became the latest full league to sign an exclusive licensing deal with Konami for eFootball 23. Liga BBVA MX’s official Twitter account confirmed its removal from FIFA 23. The announcement follows its “historic exclusivity agreement” with the cross-platform eFootball platform.
Certainly, Liga BBVA MX is by no means at the top of EA Sport’s priorities, but the news will not sit comfortably with Latin American soccer gamers. The league contains household names, including World Cup talent, Guillermo Ochoa, Pierre-Andre Gignac as well as Florian Thauvin.
This could all be part of Konami’s master plan to assume licensing dominance across South and Central America, leaving EA with Europe and North America as their key focus areas. EA may look to curtail such a strategy by landing a new full league license of their own ahead of FIFA 23, with the Brazilian Serie A increasingly tipped to return to next season’s release.
Licensing aside, Konami aims to improve core gameplay. Since moving to a new engine, improvements to eFootball have been implemented. The hope is the game becomes more in line with what fans expect from a flagship franchise. Its rushed initial development saw eFootball receive scathing reviews. Many reviews pointed to a host of bugs and poor aesthetics.
Nevertheless, a revised defensive system incorporating pressing and shoulder challenges has been a welcomed change. A new “Stunning Kick” mode has also been introduced, giving elite players the ability to unleash shots with more ferocity and accuracy. Of course, improvements are good. Only time will tell if eFootball capitalizes on the changes surrounding EA Sports and official licenses.
Want to talk sports and/or games with the fastest growing community in gaming? Join the conversation by joining us on Discord, and check out our Twitter and Facebook pages as well as our growing YouTube Channel!