The FIFA franchise has been around now for 23 years, with millions of fans flocking to buy the each latest edition in the canon upon release. While debate rages about which version of the game is the best, no-one can deny FIFA’s huge appeal.
Here are the factors which, in our opinion, make FIFA not just the best sports video-game franchise, but the best franchise of all time…
As Simon Parkin of the Guardian states, the FIFA video-game franchise changed football. The 30 different ratings it applies to thousands of different players are now so accurate that real clubs have used the game to scout for new players.
As football has evolved, FIFA has embraced everything that makes the sport what it is today, from the rampant commercialisation to the obsession with stats. While the first FIFA game wasn’t that realistic, the later editions boast high-resolution on-pitch action and player reactions, the faces in the crowds and regionalised atmospheres. All of this makes playing FIFA a truly-immersive experience.
Whereas fantasy elements in franchises like Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog work in their favour, realism is FIFA’s greatest strength. The game’s immersive nature has also brought about signs of FIFA addiction in some players, although it remains a healthy pastime for most.
So strong is FIFA’s popularity that real footballers are influenced by the game. Back in 2008, Parma goalkeeper Marco Amelia said he was able to save a penalty from Milan’s Ronaldinho because “it was just like playing him on the PlayStation”. Germany international Mats Hummels also says he uses the game to “visualise new ways of playing”.
Perfect ‘dorm-room game’
FIFA is the perfect dorm-room game. It’s easy to play, immersive and enjoyable for both hardcore football fans and casual players.
As a sport, football is constantly moving and changing and its fast pace makes it more enjoyable for casual fans than something like Madden NFL, with the latter boring some less-serious players due to the stop-start nature of American football.
FIFA lets players tweak the skills and traits of the players in their team. If you think your goalkeeper could do with toughening up, or your striker doesn’t have enough pace, you can adjust their stats to turn the tide in your favour.
Americans love it
While football is by far the world’s most popular sport, the US has proven relatively immune to football’s charms over the years. It’s not that Americans hated “soccer”; it was just that they preferred home-grown sports like American football, basketball and baseball.
And while some Americans have found the real sport boring, they love FIFA. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing franchises in US gaming history. Now, the popularity of football in the US is now growing fast and the sport arguably has FIFA to thank for this. The fact that FIFA is so good that it managed to change American sports fans’ hardened opinions is testament to the true greatness of the franchise.