While the rest of the world is scooping the latest edition of EA Sport’s FIFA franchise at a record clip and rushing to their big screens to challenge the world in epic battles of who’s-better-with-Barcelona, Japan is going about their usual business. Business which does not involve caring about FIFA. Why does a country with as much football and video game passion as Japan remain unconverted to FIFA? The reasons are twofold: licensing and brand loyalty. It’s an issue of nationalism, really.
When it comes to soccer video games, Japan is a PES nation. Pro Evo comes from Japanese company Konami, while the FIFA line originates with a Canadian company in Electronic Arts. Back in the early back of the century, when EA Sports was improving FIFA to the point that it rivaled PES in terms of game play, Japan stuck with the hometown team. That was in part down to Konami’s origins, but it was also due to lack of Japanese teams in the FIFA franchise; neither the Blue Samurai nor J-League clubs are licensed for the EA game.
So Winning Eleven, the Japanese name of PES, is the game of choice in the world’s foremost video gaming culture.
When asked at this year’s Tokyo Game Show why Japanese teams are M.I.A. in FIFA, EA’s Kaz Izumi told Kotaku, “It’s a licensing thing.”
According to Izumi, there’s also the culture of Japan to contend with. Pro Evo is a long-standing series, and players are familiar with it. “Japanese people are loyal and stick to brands they know,” Izumi said. “It’s sometimes hard for them to accept Western games.”
Also there’s this, which is a collectible card/arcade game produced by Sega that lets players assemble a team by collecting cards made by Panini, then manage their teams in matches played in arcade.
(h/t @johnbogdan for the video)