FIFA, also known as FIFA Football or FIFA Soccer, is a series of association football video games or football simulator, released annually by Electronic Arts under the EA Sports label. While there was no major competition when EA released the first titles in their Madden NFL and NHL series, football video games such as Sensible Soccer, Kick Offand Match Day had been developed since the late 1980s and already competitive in the games market when EA Sports announced a football game as the next addition to their EA Sports label.
When the series began in late 1993, it was notable for being the first to have an official licence from FIFA, the world governing body of football. The latest installments in the series contain many exclusively-licensed leagues including leagues and teams from around the world, including the German Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, English Premier League and Football League, Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, Portuguese Primeira Liga, French Ligue 1, DutchEredivisie, Brazilian Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Mexican Liga MX, American Major League Soccer, South KoreanK-League, Saudi Professional League and Australian A-League, allowing the use of real leagues, clubs, and player names and likenesses within the games. In addition, internationally popular clubs from around the world, including some teams from Greece, Turkey, Argentina and South Africa, without those nations' entire leagues.
The main series has been complemented by additional installments based on single major tournaments, such as theFIFA World Cup, UEFA European Football Championship, and UEFA Champions League, as well as a series of football management titles.
As of FIFA 13, Lionel Messi is the face of the franchise, appearing on the front cover of every game released in the series and in promotional campaigns and advertisements. He replaced Wayne Rooney, who appeared on seven straight covers from FIFA 06 to FIFA 12.
As of 2011, the FIFA franchise has been localised into 18 languages and available in 51 countries. The series has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling sports video game franchise in the world, andone of the best-selling video game franchises. Also FIFA 12 holds the record for the "fastest selling sports game ever" with over 3.2 million games sold and over $186 million generated at retail in its first week of release.
While FIFA 95 did not add much other than the ability to play with club teams, FIFA 96 pushed the boundaries. For the first time with real player names by obtaining the FIFPro license, the PlayStation, PC, 32X and Sega Saturn versions used EA's "Virtual Stadium" engine, with 2D sprite players moving around a real-time 3Dstadium. FIFA 97 improved on this with polygonal models for players and added an indoor soccer mode, but an early pinnacle was reached with FIFA: Road to World Cup 98. This version featured much improved graphics, a complete World Cup with qualifying rounds (including all national teams) and refined gameplay. Months later, World Cup 98, EA's first officially-licensed tournament game.
FIFA games have been met with some minor criticism; such as improvements each game features over its predecessor. As the console market is expanding, FIFAis being challenged directly by other titles such as Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series. Both FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer have a large following but FIFA sales is rising as much as 23 percent year-on-year. In 2010, the FIFA series had sold over 100 million copies making it the best-selling sports video game franchise in the world and the most profitable EA Sports title. With FIFA 12 selling 3.2 million copies in the first week after its September 27 North American debut in 2011, EA Sports dubbed it "the most successful launch in EA Sports history."
In 2012, EA Sports signed Lionel Messi to the FIFA franchise, luring him away from the competitor Pro Evolution Soccer. Messi's likeness was then immediately placed on the cover of FIFA Street. In 2013, the Spanish professional women's footballer Vero Boquete started a petition on Change.org, which called upon Electronic Arts to introduce female players in the FIFA series. The petition attracted 20,000 signatures in 24 hours. On 28 May 2015, EA announced that female national teams will be included in FIFA 16, which is set to be released on 25 September 2015.
Games in the series
FIFA International Soccer.
- Tagline: "FIFA International Soccer has it all... experience sheer brilliance"
- Cover athlete: David Platt and Piotr Świerczewski (Packie Bonner and Ruud Gullit in some versions)
- Released for: PC, DOS, Amiga, Sega CD (As "FIFA International Soccer Championship Edition"), 3DO, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System, Sega Game Gear, Game Boy
- Release date: July 15, 1993
Known as EA Soccer during development and sometimes subsequently also known as FIFA '94, the first game in the series was released in the weeks leading up to Christmas 1993. This greatly hyped football title broke with traditional 16-bit era games by presenting an isometric view rather than the more usual top-down view (Kick Off), side view (European Club Soccer), or bird's-eye view (Sensible Soccer). It only includes national teams, and real player names are not used. A notorious bug allows the player to score by standing in front of the goalkeeper so that the ball rebounds off him into the net. The game was number one in the UK charts, replacing Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition, and staying there for a full six months. Mega placed the game at #11 in their Top 50 Mega Drive Games of All Time. The Sega Mega CD version was released under the title "FIFA International Soccer Championship Edition" it includes some features used in the next title, and is a highly polished version of the original. This version was ranked #7 on the Mega list of the Top 10 Mega CD Games of All Time. The game on the 3DO console sported pseudo-3D cameras and it was the most graphically advanced version. Also, the game is playable on the PlayStation 2 version of FIFA 06. It was made in celebration for the 1994 World Cup held in the United States - especially noticeable in the Super NES version which, despite having a smaller team selection than the Genesis version, had three exclusive teams which qualified for the real-life tournament: Bolivia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The game was called "International Soccer" so EA could sell the game successfully in Europe, after assuming Americans would have no interest in the game.
- Tagline: "The best console football can get"
- Cover athlete: Erik Thorstvedt (Alexi Lalas in some versions)
- Released for: Mega Drive/Genesis
- Release date: July 8, 1994
Using the same engine with only minor touch-ups, FIFA 95 introduced club teams to the series within eight national leagues: Brazil, Germany's Fußball-Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A, Spain's La Liga, England's Premier League, France's 1re division, Netherlands' Eredivisie and USA. Most of the leagues have team lineups based on the 1993-94 season, and the teams, although recognisably real, all still have fictitious players, many of them even returning from the previous game. The USA League consists of teams and players from the A-League, the country's second division - subsequent editions would feature "artificial" division one leagues, a feature not corrected until the 2000 edition, when Major League Soccer was included for the first time. In addition, the Brazilian league contained only teams from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with the exception of Internacional, from Porto Alegre—it would not be until FIFA 07 that Campeonato Brasileirorepresented the country. The game eliminates the one-touch passing seen in the original FIFA International Soccer. This was also the only game in the main series not to be released in more than one platform (counting spin-offs, only FIFA 64 and certain versions of the FIFA Manager series share this distinction).
- Tagline: "Next Generation Soccer"
- Cover athlete: Frank de Boer and Jason McAteer (European version)
- Released for: DOS/Windows, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Game Gear, Game Boy
- Release date: July 1, 1995
This is the first FIFA game to feature real-time 3D graphics on the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and PC versions, using technology called "Virtual Stadium". It is also the first in the series to present players with real player names and positions, with ranking, transfer and team customisation tools. However, the Brazilian teams had mostly inaccurate rosters, some of them even featuring long-retired players (this would only be corrected in FIFA 99), and the American league consisted of entirely fictitious teams and rosters (Major League Soccer had been inaugurated for only a few months as of the game's release, but it would only start to appear in the games as of FIFA 2000). The SNES and Mega Drive versions use an updated version of FIFA 95's engine with new teams and graphics. It is also the first FIFA game to contain a player/team editor (in the Mega Drive and fifth-generation versions only). Also, in addition to the eight national leagues of the previous game, three leagues debuted in the game: Scottish Premier League, Allsvenskan and Super League Malaysia - a lineup that would stay for the next two editions as well. This was also the first FIFA game to have a proper introduction.
- Tagline: "Emotion Captured"
- Cover athlete: David Ginola (European version); Bebeto (rest of the world)
- Released for: DOS/Windows, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Mega Drive/Genesis, SNES, Game Boy
- Release date: June 24, 1996
The biggest change in FIFA '97 was the inclusion of 6-a-side indoor soccer mode and polygonal players, with motion capture provided by David Ginola. The game features a much higher number of playable leagues from England, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Malaysia. These versions also feature commentary by John Motson, partnered by Andy Gray, with Des Lynam introducing the matches.
FIFA: Road to World Cup 98
- Tagline: "Your only goal - qualify"
- Cover athlete: Roy Lassiter (USA); David Beckham (UK); Paolo Maldini (Italy); David Ginola (France); Andreas Möller (Germany); Raúl (Spain)
- Title song: "Song 2" by Blur
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Boy
- Release date: June 17, 1997
This game marks the start of an upward trend in the series. It boasts a refined graphics engine, team and player customisation options, 16 stadia, improved artificial intelligence, a "Road to World Cup" mode with all FIFA-registered national teams, and a licensed soundtrack featuring popular musical artists of the time. The game features many accurate team squads for national call up when playing in the round robin qualification modes. Another new feature was the ability to manually change the referee's strictness, allowing some fouls to go un-noticed or without punishment.
Additionally, for the first time in a FIFA game, the offside rule is properly implemented. In previous games, when a player was in an offside position doing anything except running, that player was penalised for offside even when the ball was passed backwards. The 32-bit version of FIFA 98 corrects this so that the game would only award a free kick for offside if the ball was passed roughly to where the player in the offside position was.
FIFA 98 was also the first of the series to feature a licenced soundtrack, with "Song 2" by Blur used as the intro track for the game. It was the last FIFA game to be released on the 16-bit consoles that the series had originated on.
- Tagline: "All the Clubs, Leagues and Cups"
- Cover athlete: Dennis Bergkamp (World), Kasey Keller (USA), Fabien Barthez (France), Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan); Olaf Thon (Germany); Rui Costa (Portugal);Christian Vieri (Italy); Ahn Jung-hwan (South Korea); Fernando Morientes (Spain);
- Title song: "The Rockafeller Skank (Remix)" by Fatboy Slim
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Nintendo 64
- Release date: June 10, 1998
While the indoor mode was no longer featured, the gameplay's fluidity and responsiveness was increased. The increasing number of websites dedicated to the game and a larger number of leagues (the Malaysian league was removed, and on its stead came two new leagues: the Belgian First Division and the Portuguese Liga; this came to be a problem when the owners of the rights to the Primeira Liga tried to pull the game from the shelves locally). Graphically, it is a major improvement over FIFA '98, with the inclusion of basic facial animations and different players' heights as well as certain other cosmetic features such as improved kits and emblems, although they are unlicensed. Gamers may also create their own custom cups and leagues and select the teams they wish to participate.
FIFA 99 also features an elite league called the "European Dream League" in which 20 top teams from across Europe battle it out in a league format. It was also the first game to feature a block containing teams which did not pertain to any of the main leagues (back then, it was known as "Rest of Europe" since all teams were European, the vast majority of them featured either in the 1998-99 season of the UEFA Cup or Champions League).
- Title song: "It's Only Us" by Robbie Williams
- Cover athlete: Sol Campbell (UK); Vincenzo Montella (Italy); Pep Guardiola (Spain); Emmanuel Petit (France); Jaap Stam (Netherlands); Vassilios Tsiartas(Greece); Mehmet Scholl (Germany); Simão Sabrosa (Portugal); Eddie Pope (US); Par Zetterberg(Sweden); Kim Byung-ji (South Korea);
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Game Boy Color
- Release date: October 26, 1999
This version of the FIFA series contained over 40 "classic" teams, so that gamers could play as retired football legends.
It marked the introduction of Major League Soccer, replacing the fictitious "American" league previously included, as well as national leagues from Denmark,Greece, Israel, Norway and Turkey (though Galatasaray S.K. is not present in the game).
The game features over 40 national sides, fully integrated seasons, set piece selections, increased physical contact, new facial animations, shielding ability and tougher tackling.
The game received mixed reviews due to its cartoonish graphic engine and shallow gameplay, a brand new engine was implemented in an attempt to give more "emotion" to the 3d player models. The game was generally considered to be much inferior than its rival.
The opening video for FIFA 2000 features Sol Campbell performing motion capture duties for the game, then having his likeness computer-generated to play against a retro side from 1904 - the year of the inauguration of FIFA. The game also included Port Vale, the club supported by Williams, in the "Rest of the World" section (they were in Football League 1 at the time, and while the concept of post-season promotion and relegation was introduced in this edition, teams from lower league tiers were only selectable starting with FIFA 2004).
- Title song: "Bodyrock" by Moby
- Cover athlete: Edgar Davids (Netherlands); Paul Scholes (UK); Gheorghe Hagi; Ben Olsen (US); Sá Pinto (Portugal); Gaizka Mendieta (Spain); Filippo Inzaghi(Italy); Lothar Matthäus (Germany); Thierry Henry (France); Leonardo (Brazil); Shimon Gershon (Israel); Ko Jong-Su (South Korea)
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation
- Release date: November 8, 2000
This title had a new graphics engine which allows each team to have its own detailed kit, and for some players, their own unique faces. Doing away with ordinary coloured pennants as club emblems, the license includes official club emblems for the first time, although certain leagues, like the Dutch league, are unlicensed. Slightly tweakable physics made the game a modding favorite for its fan community. The game also includes the entire Austrian Bundesliga as a playable league for the first time, albeit removing the Portuguese Liga and the Turkish Premier League. A "hack" feature is included, where the player can press R1 to attempt an intentional foul, such a high sliding tackle. This title was the first game of the series with a power bar for shooting (such a feature already existed in the Super NES version of the first game, but it was not in all versions of the game). FIFA 2001 was the first version (for the PC) that could be played online, which was revolutionary, and the first game in the franchise for PlayStation 2.
FIFA Football 2002
- Title song: "19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)" by Gorillaz
- Cover athlete: Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan); Thierry Henry (France); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden); Nuno Gomes (Portugal); Francesco Totti (Italy); Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands); İlhan Mansız (Turkey); Gerald Asamoah (Germany); Lampros Choutos (Greece); Hong Myung-bo (South Korea); Sibusiso Zuma(South Africa); Nawaf Al-Temyat (Saudi Arabia); Tomasz Radzinski (US); Roberto Carlos (Brazil); Iker Casillas (Spain);
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation
- Release date: November 1, 2001
For FIFA Football 2002, power bars for passes were introduced, and dribbling reduced in order to attain a higher challenge level. The power bar can also be customised to suit the gamer's preference. The game also includes club emblems for many more European clubs as well as for major Dutch clubs such as PSV,Ajax and Feyenoord, although there was no Dutch league of any kind (they were under the "Rest of World" header). This game also features, for the first time, theSwiss Super League, at the cost of excluding the Greek League. A card reward system licensed from Panini was also introduced where, after winning a particular competition, a star player card is unlocked. There is also a bonus game with the nations that had automatically qualified for the 2002 World Cup (France, Japan andSouth Korea), in which the player tries to improve the FIFA ranking of their chosen team by participating in international friendlies. Playing with other national teams will allow the player to play through their respective zones' qualifying rounds (except for Oceania and Africa, whose confederations are not represented in full).
FIFA Football 2002 was the final game in the main series to feature the Japanese national team, as the Japan Football Association would sell its exclusive rights toKonami during 2002, thereby depriving not only FIFA, but all other football games in the market (with the exception of EA's World Cup spin-offs), from using its lineup and likeness (Japanese players in foreign markets continued to be featured in the series, though).
FIFA Football 2003
- Tagline: "Be the Twelfth Man"
- Cover athlete: Roberto Carlos, Ryan Giggs, and Edgar Davids (in the United States, Roberto Carlos was replaced by Landon Donovan)
- Title song: "To Get Down (Fatboy Slim Remix)" by Timo Maas
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Mobile phone
- Release date: October 25, 2002
FIFA Football 2003 added features completely new gameplay from the previous titles. EA revamped the outdated DirectX 7 graphics used in FIFA 2001 and 2002, and introduced new graphics featuring more detailed stadia, players, and kits. Club Championship Mode was introduced with the feature of playing against 17 of Europe's top clubs in their own stadia and the fans singing their unique chants and songs. A TV-style broadcast package gave highlights at half-time and full-time, as well as comprehensive analysis. One of the most anticipated new features was EA Sport's "Freestyle Control" which allows the user to flick the ball on and lay it off to team mates. Other additions include greater likenesses of players such as Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho, as well as realistic player responses. An Xboxversion was added to the Windows and PlayStation 2, whereas the original PlayStation version was dropped. FIFA Football 2003 was also the first game in the series to use the EA Trax. EA Trax is the exclusive music menu system that has been used ever since in all FIFA titles.
FIFA Football 2004
- Tagline: "Create brilliance"
- Cover athlete: Thierry Henry, Alessandro Del Piero and Ronaldinho
- Title song: "Red Morning Light" by Kings of Leon
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Nokia N-Gage, Mobile phone
- Release date: October 18, 2003
While not adding much to the game engine, the biggest new inclusion in FIFA Football 2004 is secondary divisions, which allow the player to take lower ranked teams into the top leagues and competitions (a promotion/relegation system was present since the 2000 edition, but none up until this one featured second-tier leagues). A new gameplay feature dubbed "off the ball" was introduced, which is the ability to simultaneously control two players, in order, for example, to move a second player into the box in anticipation of a pass. The online mode was touted as the main feature. Another key feature is "Football Fusion", which allows owners of both FIFA 2004 and Total Club Manager 2004 to play games from TCM in FIFA 2004. This is also the first FIFA game to feature Latin American club teams aside from those of the Brazilian League; there are four from Mexico (América, Toluca, Monterrey and UNAM; a fifth team, Tigres UANL, is present only in the Game Boy Advance version) and two from Argentina (Boca Juniors and River Plate). The title sequence, featuring Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Alessandro Del Piero was filmed at St James' Park, the home ground of Newcastle United.
FIFA Football 2005
- Tagline: "A great player needs a great first touch"
- Cover athlete: Patrick Vieira, Fernando Morientes and Andriy Shevchenko (in North America Oswaldo Sanchez replaced Patrick Vieira)
- Released for: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation, PlayStation Portable (America only), Game Boy Advance, Nokia N-Gage,Gizmondo, Mobile phone
- Release date: October 11, 2004
FIFA Football 2005 was released much earlier than the usual late October date to obtain a head start over Pro Evolution Soccer 4 and avoid clashing with EA Sports' own FIFA Street. The game features the return of the create-a-player mode, as well as an improved Career mode. The biggest difference compared to previous titles in the series is the inclusion of first-touch gameplay which provides gamers with the ability to perform "real-life" tricks and passes. It is also the first version to feature the full Mexican League. The game has no opening video, but its soundtrack is headlined by British DJ Paul Oakenfold, who composed the FIFA Theme especially for the game, using some sounds from the game such as crowd noises and commentary. This was the last title released for the original PlayStation in the US. The game also features authentic crowd chants edited by producer Dan Motut.
- Tagline: "You Play, They Obey"
- Cover athlete: Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho (in North America, Omar Bravo and Freddy Adu joined Ronaldinho on the cover)
- Title song: "Helicopter" by Bloc Party
- Released for: Xbox 360 (Road to FIFA World Cup), Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, Java ME
- Release date: October 4, 2005
FIFA's developers made a complete overhaul of the game engine for this installment of FIFA, claiming a dramatic increase in the control of play, having rewritten more than hal