Konami has officially dropped the Pro Evolution Soccer branding for their next eFootball game. Not only that, but eFootball will become a digital-only, free-to-play game when it launches later this year for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC – an iOS and Android release will follow. All versions of the game will have cross-play, to boot.
Going forward, eFootball will be a game of continual evolution, as a ‘platform’ with regular updates. There will no longer be paid annual releases, but there will still be yearly updates for new seasons, and certain content locked behind a pay wall.
In a statement on the change, Konami writes:
It all began with the implacable determination to create a revolutionary football experience.
Our ambition was to recreate the perfect football environment, from the grass on the pitch, to the players’ movement, all the way to the crowds in the stadium.
To this end, we decided to create a new football engine, with revamped animation system and game controls.
The final result was even more impressive than we had originally conceived.
We had gone beyond the border of PES, into a new realm of virtual football.
To signal this new era, we have decided to part ways with our beloved PES brand and rename it “eFootball™”!
Now we hope that you can enjoy this brand new football experience that eFootball™ has to offer.
At launch, eFootball will feature exhibition matches and a selection of 9 clubs to play, with other modes offered as optional DLC down the line. Later in the autumn, online leagues will be opened, cross-platform matches will be enabled, and a new Team Building Mode will be added, which would seemingly be the successor to the FIFA Ultimate Team-like Master League. There will also be a Match Pass system, which seems to be a battle pass.
All of this news comes after Konami launched an online test for ‘New Football Game’ back in June. This was a cut down online multiplayer test, newly built on the Unreal Engine, instead of the Fox Engine that had been used ever since Pro Evolution Soccer 2014. With the move to a new engine, eFootball features a new Motion Matching animation system, which will apparently allow there to be more than four times as many animations as previous Konami football games.
However, this shift is also seeing Konami release the game in a rather barebones form. There’s a lot of key features from a typical PES game that will be missing, such as MyClub and the ability to customise generic teams to match the real world counterparts. Konami has confirmed to IGN that the Option Files for these customisations will be added after launch, as well as that Peter Drury and Jim Beglin will return as the English-language commentating duo.
Ditching PES in the West and Winning Eleven in Japan is a significant choice by Konami, closing the book on these long and storied brands. Winning Eleven was the name of Konami’s first football game back in 1996, while 2001’s Pro Evolution Soccer was the successor label to International Superstar Soccer. That’s over 20 years, in which Konami has continually rivalled, and sometimes surpassed EA’s officially licensed FIFA series.
Konami’s football series has been on the back foot since losing the UEFA Champions League license to EA and their FIFA series a few years ago. Since then they have been constantly making exclusive deals with individual leagues and teams, most recently signing up Series A side Atalanta. In the last year they’ve also signed the likes of Napoli, AS Roma and Juventus, some in exclusive deals that see them dropped from EA’s FIFA games.