When it comes to football, almost everybody with an interest in the beautiful game favours one team or another. And those allegiances also extend into football games. The battle between EA Sports' FIFA series, and Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) has been raging ever since the mid-1990s.
FIFA has tended to be the more successful in terms of sales, with its licensing of team and player names making it more realistic. But PES has sometimes been regarded as the better game, even if you did have to play with made-up names.
With the latest iterations due to be released in the next few months, here's what we know about the key differences between the two titles, and how they match up head-to-head. Let's kick off.
FIFA vs PES: Key Differences
There were some big differences between the approach the rivals took in relation to the 2021 editions of their titles. FIFA was released with both last generation and next generation versions. PES provided a "season update" version for the new consoles.
This means that they have had around 18 months to build their first fully next-gen version. They have switched from the Fox Engine to the Unreal Engine for building PES 2022. This should lead to better player models and animations, more realistic visuals, and superior in-game physics.
However, PES 2022 won't actually exist - not in that name, anyway. Konami recently announced some drastic changes to its football franchise, scrapping the phrase 'Pro Evolution Soccer' and calling their game eFootball - a term introduced to the PES franchise a few seasons ago.
Aside from this name change, PES/eFootball will now be a free-to-play/free-to-start game, adopting a more immediate microtransaction-focused model than FIFA.
In gameplay terms, PES is generally regarded as the more realistic game to play. FIFA is seen as having a slightly more arcade feel to it. The gap has undoubtedly narrowed in this respect though. FIFA is also regarded as being the more polished game overall; better commentary, slicker presentation, and better player likenesses. It will be interesting to see how the two compare in 2022.
FIFA vs PES Graphics
We know that PES will be using the Unreal Engine produced by Epic Games. While Unreal Engine is due towards the end of 2021, eFootball will use Unreal Engine 4, which still will see some major enhancements from a graphical perspective.
FIFA will continue running on the Frostbite engine, so we can probably expect more iterative improvements. It is generally regarded as the prettier, more polished game. So it will be interesting to see how they both look in the 2022 editions.
FIFA vs PES Teams
Arguably the most singularly significant difference between FIFA and PES is down to team and player licenses.
For years, FIFA has been able to enjoy a virtual monopoly on real teams, real stadia, and real players. This has lent the game a level of authenticity that PES has struggled to compete with. But in 2020, Juventus was persuaded to grant their license exclusively to PES, meaning that for once FIFA was left with a slightly jarring imitation of the Turin based side known as Piemonte Calcio. Apparently this continues to bear fruit, as at least two other Italian teams are rumoured to have signed up with Konami for 2022.
FIFA continues to set the standard on this though, and has enjoyed almost universal access to official team names, logos, and player names and likenesses. While Konami may have been able to pinch an exclusive in Juventus, they did lose the two Milanese teams. It's unlikely that FIFA's dominant position on this is likely to be significantly diluted in 2022.
FIFA vs PES Players
The licensing differences aren't just limited to team names either. FIFA undoubtedly has the advantage when it comes to the names and likenesses of real players. While Konami have made progress in securing more teams, and therefore more players, there are still significant gaps in how complete the rosters are. You will likely have no problem with player names in the major leagues and most international teams. PES has at least been able to secure many of the biggest names - most notably Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But if you prefer to play as a team from, say, the English second division, then you might struggle to recognise any of the names in your squad. Again, this is likely to remain the case for the 2022 editions of both games. If you want your game to be as authentic as possible, it's hard to see beyond FIFA.
FIFA vs PES Game Modes
This is another area where FIFA benefits from its licenses. They have exclusive rights to competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League. So in terms of career mode, this is certainly more authentic. FIFA also has game modes such as Volta (a street-style small sided game) Manager Mode, Career Mode, and Ultimate Team.
PES meanwhile, has an Ultimate Team equivalent known as myClub, and Master League, which is the Manager Mode offering. Whether there will be new modes to enjoy when eFootball 2022 is released, time will tell. Undoubtedly more will be revealed as we get closer to release.