EA Sports president, Andrew Wilson has told GamesIndustryBiz how a lot of people told EA Sports that Pro Evolution Soccer was such a great game, and so EA Sports should “just copy them”, and then because the publisher was the larger publisher, they would win on marketing. However Wilson explained that this option did not interest EA Sports.
Wilson talked about how he was unsure of the franchise when appointed to it, and he recalls looking at a broken build of the game and wondering if the series would ever be successful. The franchise’s defining moments came when the publisher and developer set an ambitious goal for the future and went on with a recruitment overhaul at EA Canada which led to an international team with 19 nationalities.
“We were like the UN of game development teams, but we were all unified around a passion for football. And I think that was the first step.”
The studio then convinced EA bosses to let the team focus on connected play, at a time when online was still fairly new and uncertain. This decision would eventually lead to the success of the franchise.
“We had this dream of wouldn’t it be amazing if by the time we got to the 2010 World Cup, we could have 11 on 11 online play with 22 real humans around the globe? Wouldn’t that be amazing?”
“And I remember the first time we stood up and gave that presentation the company thought we had rocks in our head.”
“You had to make being a left back interesting!” laughed Wilson, explaining the thinking behind the introduction of Be A Pro.
“We said ‘OK, we need to take you online and let you play as a single player online,’ and then ultimately we evolved, so 5 versus 5, 10 versus 10, until we got to 11 versus 11.”
“Basically we worked back from and started from the basics of control that we would need to ultimately deliver that vision, and here we are today.”
Speaking about the future of the franchise, Wilson explained how live analytics teams run millions of queries against thousands of tables every day, and this gives the FIFA team a “unique understanding” of the game’s players, and the feedback from 10 million people everyday, which in turn helps EA Sports strive forward with the game.