Amazing thread necromancy there!
I have to say I remain of the view that the stigma that ‘gamers’ (god I hate that term) had / have against sport, in many cases is darned silly. I apparently opined as much a decade ago - looking above. How is that even possible?!
I was by no means a huge football type of person growing up, though I enjoyed playing it, and did so at an ok level. As a result, I always enjoyed the games when younger, and was lucky enough to have known ISS and the earliest Pro Evos. They were so, so far in advance of FIFA, and it has always annoyed me how people levelled criticism about licenses at them, even though it was clear EA’s financial bullying gave them no chance. They still, for my money, make the better game - the better approximation of the game, at any rate - despite the far, far too slow iterations they’d been allowed to make for too long, as FIFA did. It still feels like if either company could learn a little from the other… a licensed, well-presented game but with the best gameplay aspects from each (heavily PES to be honest)… there’d be a hell of a game. I haven’t really been sold on any in recent years, because they really did sit on laurels, both companies.
EA clearly went down the GTA online route, knowing full well where the goose was fattest, and knew that a huge proportion of the population cared most about how the game looked, rather than really worrying about any particular depth or innovation on the pitch. It plays… fine, but they made really poor games for a long time, in truth, and focused on the online crap and the gambling (“it’s not gambling”) aspects to maximise profits over all else.
Konami still have laughably bad menus, awfully little progress in game modes such as the once-brilliant Master League, and have still never dealt properly with the AI copouts at higher difficulty levels or poor defence response and positioning, awful refereeing and so on. It’s a genuine shame, as I must’ve pumped hundreds of hours into PES5 or 6 and it never seemed to tire. Not so these days.
Perhaps the new generation will usher in some renewed efforts, but in EA’s case, I doubt it. There isn’t the incentive there to do much fresh, or to reinvent what they do, commercially. Konami, on the other hand, simply have to make a product for a certain type of purist, or up their game in lots of other ways. They are playing, far more than EA, the game for their lives.