The FIFA Series is a popular series of football (soccer) video games, released yearly by EA under the EA Sports label. Since its debut release in late 1993, it has been one of the most profitable and well known video game franchises. While there was no major competition when EA released both the first titles in their Madden NFL and NHL series, football video games such as Sensible Soccer, Kick Off or Matchday Soccer were being developed since the late eighties and were already competitive games in the Football Market when EA announced a football game as their next addition to the EA Sports label.
The key points of EA’s massive advertisement were the isometric view of the ground (when all other games used either top down, side scrolling or birds’ eye views), detailed graphics and animations and of course, the FIFA endorsement (although it did not feature real player names). It was shipped for Christmas 1993, named FIFA International Soccer, and was released for most active platforms of the time.
While FIFA 95 did not add much other than the ability to play with club teams, FIFA 96 pushed the boundaries. For the first time with real player names, the PC, 32X and Sega Saturn versions used EA’s Virtual Stadium engine, with 2D sprite players moving on a 3D stadium. FIFA 97 had crude polygonal models for players and added indoor football, but the pinnacle was reached with FIFA 98:Road to the World Cup. This version featured improved graphics, a complete World Cup with qualifying rounds (including all national teams registered in FIFA) and refined gameplay. Months later, World Cup 98, EAs first officially licensed tournament game, improved Direct3D support, gave each team a unique kit and broke the sequence of poor video games based on tournaments started by US Gold’s World Cup Carnival in 1986 and continued until Gremlin’s Euro 96.
The following years’ releases were met with criticism: buyers complained about poor gameplay, bugs that were never fixed, bad support and little improvement over the previous title. That led to a decrease in the games’ popularity, but fans were still willing to give EA a tabula rasa each year. As both emulation and the console market expanded, FIFA was being challenged directly from other titles such as Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer (known as Winning Eleven in Japan and the U.S.). By FIFA 2003 EA made a determined effort to improve the game, and a year later, included a new mode (Football Fusion) that allowed the ability to play games from TCM 2004 using FIFA’s engine, and when Konami announced that PES3 would also have a Personal Computer release, EA doubled the efforts the revive the series.
As it is now, both FIFA Football and Pro Evolution Soccer have a large following but FIFA Football enjoys a substantially higher volume of sales in comparison to Pro Evolution Soccer.
FIFA International Soccer (aka FIFA ’94)
FIFA Soccer ’95
FIFA Soccer ’96
FIFA ’98: Road To World Cup
World Cup 98
2002 FIFA World Cup
FIFA Football 2004
FIFA Football 2005
2006 FIFA: Road To World Cup
FIFA Street (2005)
FIFA Street 2 (2006)
FIFA Soccer Manager (1997)
Premier League Manager ’99, 2000
Total Club Manager/FIFA Manager (also known as Fussball Manager in Germany)