FIFA vs PES sales: Which football sim game has sold the most units?

In the battle of the football sims, who comes out on top? We pit EA and Konami against one another and look at FIFA vs PES sales.

by André Pusey
FIFA vs PES sales header

FIFA vs PES is as classic a football rivalry as United vs City, Real vs Barca or… Ossett Albion vs Ossett Town. 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…

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FIFA vs PES sales: The early years

FIFA International Soccer screenshot
FIFA fo-fum… is that an Englishman? Who knows.

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.

READ MORE: How FIFA 21 will benefit from PS5 tech

The glory years of football sims

Pro Evolution Soccer 5 screenshot
Half-back passes to centre, back to wing, back to centre…

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.

READ MORE: Will FIFA 21 have VAR?

FIFA takes its place atop the table

Liverpool FA Cup champions
They think it’s all over (280 million)! It is now.

Everything changed with the introduction of 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; 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.

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 108 million copies worldwide as of March 2020. As of September 2018, FIFA titles had sold 260 million units. Taking into account the reported 20 million copies of FIFA 19, that makes 280 million.

READ MORE: Latest PS5 news today

FIFA vs PES sales: The conclusion

FIFA 21 screenshot
Could PES ever hope to tackle the FIFA juggernaut again?

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.

Buy the latest FIFA title here, or pre-order FIFA 21 here. Buy the latest PES title here.

FIFA vs PES estimated sales figures (adapted from VGChartz – illustrative purposes only)

FIFA TitleFIFA SalesPES TitlePES SalesDifference
FIFA Football 20020.96milPro Evolution Soccer2.2mil1.24mil
FIFA Football 20034.16milPro Evolution Soccer 22.99mil1.17mil
FIFA Football 20044.4milPro Evolution Soccer 33.68mil0.72mil
FIFA Football 20054.89milPro Evolution Soccer 44.41mil0.48mil
FIFA 065.27milPro Evolution Soccer 55.76mil0.49mil
FIFA 076.38milPro Evolution Soccer 66.53mil0.15mil
FIFA 089.49milPro Evolution Soccer 20088.56mil0.93mil
FIFA 099.56milPro Evolution Soccer 20096.87mil2.69mil
FIFA 1010.72milPro Evolution Soccer 20105.98mil4.74mil
FIFA 1112.53milPro Evolution Soccer 20114.88mil7.65mil
FIFA 1213.06milPro Evolution Soccer 20123.66mil9.4mil
FIFA 1315.36milPro Evolution Soccer 20132.45mil12.91mil
FIFA 1417.31milPro Evolution Soccer 20141.61mil15.7mil
FIFA 1518.03milPro Evolution Soccer 20151.7mil16.33mil
FIFA 1615.82milPro Evolution Soccer 20161.56mil14.26mil
FIFA 1717.02milPro Evolution Soccer 20171.26mil15.76mil
FIFA 1816.92milPro Evolution Soccer 20181mil15.92mil
FIFA 1912.22milPro Evolution Soccer 20190.55mil11.67mil

André Pusey