Can Euro 2020 Save Konami’s PES Franchise?

Can Euro 2020 Save Konami's PES Franchise?

It has been a long wait, but finally, football fans will have something to cheer this summer as Euro 2020 finally gets underway.  The showcase event is set to take place at locations across Europe, including London, Munich, Rome and your living room. The latter will likely host all the group matches, as well as a route to the final, as the usual video game tie-in lands on your console.

The best-known football game in the world is EA Sport’s FIFA franchise, with FIFA 21 the current title. FIFA tends to sell several million copies, 12.2 million in 2019, whilst PES languished behind on just 550,000 That is in stark contrast to 2008 when PES sold 8.5 million copies, just one million fewer than FIFA 08. One of those reasons for EA’s dominance in the field is the official licensing in the FIFA games, something PES has never completely managed. So why is that?

That makes it a surprise that the European Championships are licensed by PES developer Konami. They had the 2016 tournament, and disappointingly did not even use it that well. Some countries did not have updated squads or kits, and there was a single new stadium, the Stade de Paris, for gamers to enjoy. The following year, sales dipped by 300,000, whilst FIFA’s rose again. It was seen as an own goal, even by fans of the series. The reality is, if you’re going to present a serious sim for football fans around the globe, you need to give them a game with meat on its bones.

This year promises to be different, something we already know after a Euro 2020 update dropped on PES 20 last April. Even though the official tournament was canceled, the game tie-in was released, for free, for players who already owned PES 20. This time it did boast the latest kits and squads, as well as a couple of new stadiums and the other UEFA teams that failed to qualify.

PES continued to take football gaming in a new direction this summer, releasing an update to their main game rather than a whole new title. It was a bold move, designed to appeal to fans who buy every year and get little for their money. After all, if the base game is that good, why release a new one the year after? The price point reflected this too, making it cheaper for fans, but where does it leave those wanting to play through the Euro 2020 tournament this summer?

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Luckily, Goal reveals it you can once again benefit from a free download, if you have PES 21. That means updated kits and players, new stadiums to include Wembley and Saint Petersburg Stadium, as well as official licensing with the Henri Delaunay trophy and Euro 2020 match ball. Once again, all 55 UEFA countries are included, so if you want to try to take Luxembourg to the finals, you can. Of course, you could see if you could live up to England’s position as favorites going into the tournament with Southgate’s team having the highest performing attack in the qualifiers, according to the Euro 2020 infographic by Bwin Sports, and finally bring football ‘home’. It seems in the real world, Gareth Southgate’s men are being tipped once again, but in your living room, the emphasis will be on you to deliver a first major trophy since 1966. Can you live up to the hype?

On the whole, PES is moving in a new direction after a decade of decline against the behemoth of FIFA. In 2020, a name change came adding eSports to the usual PES branding, which shifted focus towards online competition. With the change in business model and the investment they have made in official licensing, Konami is trying to claw their way back into the market.

The most important arsenal in their weapon, the Euro 2020 licensing, could deliver a defining moment in the world of football video games, especially with the lessons learned from 2016’s own goal.

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