FIFA vs PES is as classic a football rivalry as United vs City, Real vs Barca or UEFA vs the European Super League. Okay, maybe not quite as classic as that last one, but you get the point.
Since the early 2000s, gamers have spent hours upon hours debating the merits of their football franchise of choice. It split many a playground in this writer's childhood, with names like "Merseyside Red" and "Man Blue" being thrown around without even a second thought as to just how silly they were.
Nowadays the debate is largely moot, with the EA franchise having dominated Konami for many years now. But with such a fierce rivalry burning for a good long period, the question of FIFA vs PES sales still comes to mind. How much of a share did PES take from FIFA in those key years?
We've taken a look at some of the sales figures below...
FIFA Vs PES Sales: The Early Years
The FIFA series was first to market in the football sim arena with FIFA International Soccer in 1993. This absolute classic was released for the Mega Drive and later ported to consoles like the SNES, Game Boy and more. It quickly became the best-selling game of the year, with over half a million units sold.
Konami's first attempt at a football game followed on the PS1 in late 1995 - known as World Soccer: Winning Eleven in Japan, Goal Storm everywhere else. Already it struggled to keep up with FIFA, which was selling well each year as the hype around sports video games continued to grow.
Consistent sales figures for video games are pretty hard to come by from those early years, but it's likely that FIFA edged out the competition in the international market, with the Japanese-developed Konami franchise performing better in Japan. All speculation, of course.
The Glory Years Of Football Sims
The real test of FIFA vs PES sales comes with the turn of the millennium. ISS Pro Evolution became the Pro Evolution Soccer we all know today with the release of the first PS2 title in 2001. Meanwhile, the FIFA series was becoming increasingly popular with more teams and more features introduced every year.
According to VGChartz (which should definitely be taken with a pinch of salt, but is good for illustration purposes), the first PES sold 1.75 million units worldwide. Its counterpart, FIFA 2000, reportedly shifted over 1.87 million. And so the competition began, with each series selling well on various platforms.
By 2006, both franchises were selling like crazy. FIFA 07 was bought by around 6.38 million people, while PES 6 sold more than 5.53 million copies. FIFA 08 clocked in at just under 9.5 million and PES 2008 made it up to 8.5 million. EA's product was clearly more popular, but there wasn't daylight between them.
FIFA Takes Its Place Atop The Table
Everything changed with the introduction of the FIFA Ultimate Team. First released as DLC for FIFA 09 on PS3 and Xbox 360, it quickly became a mainstay of the franchise and the selling point for many millions of players.
FIFA 09 sold a couple million more copies than PES 2009 according to VGChartz, but the gap just kept getting wider. In 2009 it was 5 million, in 2010 it was 8 million, and in 2011 it was almost 10 million. By 2018, FIFA was selling over 12 million units, while PES was stumbling through with less than a million. Ouch.
The most recent instalments have further emphasised this divide, with Konami opting to skip a full PES 2021 release in favour of a Season Update DLC pack for PES 2020 - costing just £25 at launch. In contrast, EA continued the long-standing tradition by releasing FIFA 21. However, Konami has vowed to return with PES 2022 next year, running on the updated Unreal Engine 5.
With the latest public numbers, FIFA is the clear victor. Those few years of competition just weren't enough for Konami, given EA's dominance in the last ten years or so. Konami reports that the Pro Evolution Soccer series has sold more than 111 million copies worldwide as of December 2020. As of February 2021, FIFA titles had sold 325 million units.
FIFA Vs PES Sales: The Conclusion
Clearly, FIFA is the bigger franchise. In terms of pure sales, it ranks somewhere in the region of series like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, which are no joke. PES is still a massive seller with over 100 million units, making it comparable to the likes of The Legend of Zelda and Resident Evil in volume.
The lack of licensed players, teams, and stadia seems to have done irreparable damage to the Konami series, though. No matter how much you like the arcade-style gameplay of PES, it's meant to be a simulation game, and a massive part of that is getting to play as your favourite teams and players.
However, as we fast approach the 2022 versions of these football titles, it seems the two titans will now go in slightly different directions.
PES 2022, as it would have been known, won't really exist. Konami has announced the rebranding of PES simply to eFootball, following the previous rebranding to eFootball PES a few years ago. Aside from this, eFootball will be a free-to-play title, signalling Konami's intention to monetise their football game differently than previous titles, and FIFA 22.
Maybe this will see eFootball/PES finally catch up to FIFA in sales?
FIFA vs PES estimated sales figures (adapted from VGChartz - illustrative purposes only)
FIFA Football 2002
Pro Evolution Soccer
FIFA Football 2003
Pro Evolution Soccer 2
FIFA Football 2004
Pro Evolution Soccer 3
FIFA Football 2005
Pro Evolution Soccer 4
Pro Evolution Soccer 5
Pro Evolution Soccer 6
Pro Evolution Soccer 2008
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009
Pro Evolution Soccer 2010
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
What Happened In 2022?
Another year has passed, and with the relaunch of PES as eFootball, it's worth revisiting this rivalry, to see what happened.
FIFA 22, predictably, continued to sell extremely well, with over 9 million players joining the game within a week of its release date. The introduction of HyperMotion meant that FIFA 22 was more fluid than ever before.
eFootball, meanwhile, had a...difficult start to life. In terms of a relaunch, it really couldn't have gone much worse. Gameplay was panned, the graphics were terrible, and content was almost non-existent.
As a result, this really isn't much of a rivalry anymore. FIFA is playing in the Champions League, while eFootball is lucky if it is in League Two.
Things look set to change again with the release of the 2023 edition of FIFA, and eFootball trying to rebuild its reputation after such an inauspicious start.
Things could get even more interesting as FIFA 23 looks set to be the final edition of the game with the FIFA branding, after a licensing dispute between FIFA and EA. But we'd expect EA to sign off with a bang, with updated graphics, new gameplay features, and that highly polished look we're all used to.
eFootball? Well, if they can produce a game that is actually playable, that would be considered a step forward by many.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Retro page.