The annual battle of the football/soccer sims is ready to resume, as FIFA 23 vs eFootball 23 prepares to take centre stage. It's fair to say that the release of Konami's eFootball did not perhaps go as planned, and FIFA had an open goal to aim at.
But with another year under their belts to try and get things right, is the 2023 contest going to be a closer match? Let's find out, as we examine the key differences between the two titles.
FIFA 23 vs eFootball 23: Key Differences
It's worth remembering that eFootball is the spiritual successor to PES. As we mentioned earlier, its birth was troubled, with the game plagued by bugs, and player likenesses almost comically bad.
FIFA 23 meanwhile, is set to be the last EA game that uses the FIFA branding, after a dispute over licensing rights. So you might expect FIFA 23 to really go out with a bang, while eFootball simply tries to make a game that is actually playable. So far, it would appear that a minnow is taking on a football giant. So how do the two compare?
We'll start with FIFA. Using EA's Hypermotion 2 technology, FIFA 23 has more animations than ever, with an extra 6000 over and above FIFA 22. This translates to greater realism in the gameplay, with more accurate dribbling, shooting and blocking.
There are new dribbling, jockeying and acceleration mechanics as well. For example, some players will accelerate faster than others, more closely reflecting their natural athleticism in real-life.
And significantly, FIFA 23 will also feature women's club football for the first time.
Finally, one extra feature in FIFA 23 is the addition of the playable highlights in Career Mode. Previously, you had to play a full game, sit through it and jump in when needed, or simulate the result. Now though, you ahve the option to jump in when there's a key moment in the game - a shot at goal, or a key tackle, for instance.
eFootball is more like a live service game, where it will be regularly updated, rather than having annual releases. That's the theory anyway. The game uses Unreal Engine to underpin it, having replaced the older Fox Engine from the PES days.
In terms of gameplay, FIFA is generally regarded as more polished, more arcade-like, and has a better presentation. And eFootball certainly has a very long way to go in terms of matching FIFA in graphical terms, and in player likenesses.
FIFA 23 vs eFootball 23: Graphics
We've already touched on this, but FIFA 23 has put an awful lot of work into its graphics. Already a very good-looking sports sim, EA motion- captured two full real-life matches to add as many animations as they could to the game, making it even more realistic.
eFootball meanwhile, has improved significantly from its early days. At times it was almost unplayable, and player likenesses were...terrible. Things have definitely improved since then, and now the game is playable and players are reasonably recognisable.
But overall, in terms of graphics, FIFA 23 is still well ahead of eFootball.
FIFA 23 vs eFootball 23: Teams
When it comes to content, one of the key battlegrounds between the two games comes in the form of which teams and players they have licences for. And historically, FIFA has always had a big advantage, with the vast majority of teams and players licensed - more than 19000 players, 700 teams, 100 stadia, and 30 leagues will be in FIFA 23.
In 2023, FIFA will see Juventus make a long-awaited return, having previously been known as Piemonte Calcio. But several Italian clubs will be missing - Roma, Atalanta, Napoli, Inter Milan and Lazio will all have different names.
We didn't expect to be talking about geopolitics here, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine means that there will be no Russian teams in FIFA 23. And reports suggest that both Japan and Mexicos' first divisions will also be absent.
In exchange, FIFA will introduce teams from the Women's Super League in England, and the French Ligue Un. FIFA 23 will also include teams from the English fifth division. So if you've always dreamt of playing as Bromley or Torquay United, your time has come.
eFootball doesn't have such a deep roster, but still has a reasonably comprehensive list of teams from the main leagues around the world. The Italian teams we mentioned earlier as missing from FIFA are, unsurprisingly, official partners of eFootball. The Mexican league is also available. So if you are a die-hard fan of any of those clubs, you won't get them anywhere else.
And as an added bonus, fans of the popular Apple series Ted Lasso have access to play as AFC Richmond. Which may just swing it for some people, who particularly want to control Danny Rojas or Ryan Kent.
FIFA 23 vs eFootball 23: Price
Arguably the most obvious differentiator between the two games is price. FIFA 23 won't come cheap, unless you were lucky enough to spot the accidental 99% discount a few weeks ago.
For everyone else, FIFA 23 costs £69.99 for the Standard Edition on PS5; £59.99 on PS4, Epic Games and Steam. Prices are yet to be listed on Xbox, but expect it to be comparable to PlayStation. The Ultimate Edition costs more, up to £89.99 depending on your chosen platform.
eFootball, in contrast, is free-to-play. You'll then need to pay for things like virtual currency, which can be put towards signing players or match passes.
Personal preference is likely to play a large part in deciding which game you are more likely to commit to. Casual fans who just want to pick up and play every once in a while may be drawn towards the fact that eFootball is free. Die-hard football fans who want the most realistic experience are probably more likely to favour FIFA 23.
FIFA 23 has certainly been well-received by fans: in a press release, EA confirmed that in its first week alone, 10.3 million players got involved, making it the biggest launch in the game's history. And with World Cup content, plus other updates still to come, it's hard to image eFootball matching these sorts of number.