With The World Cup In Full Swing We Look At The The Evolution of Football Games

Various topics of interest are covered by Absolute, including video games like the Hitman stealth gaming series. An innovator in the industry, the brand routinely adapts to expanding markets, thereby ensuring continued success. Interestingly, innovation has also been key in the evolution of football games through the years, from their humble stick figure beginnings in the late 1970s to today’s richly detailed FIFA franchise.

Football, of course, is front and centre in the news today, as the World Cup in Russia is now in its latter stages, and the crowning of a new champion is just a few days away. With football fever in full effect, Absolute has decided to take a look at the evolution of football games, beginning with the release of NASL Soccer in 1979.

NASL Soccer (1979)

Released by Intellivision, NASL Soccer is the first footballing computer game. A pixelated mess by today’s standards, NASL Soccer featured stick figure footballers that all looked alike, with the only distinction being their shirt colours. The football, meanwhile, did not look like a football at all; instead, it was a coloured square.


Soccer (1987)

Soccer represented the first major upgrade in graphics for a football game, as for the first time, the players looked like human beings and the football actually looked like a football. The gameplay was simplistic, and players could only play as international teams with five players on each side.

Sensible Soccer (1992)

Sensible Soccer became an immediate hit. It is generally recognised as one of the first truly great football games ever, and was described as the perfect early football video game by COPA 90.

EA Sports FIFA (1994–present)

This series began with the release of FIFA International Soccer for the SNES in 1994. It presented the game via isometric view and received official licensing from FIFA, making it the first football game to have that distinction. The game, in fact, was a game-changer, explains The Guardian in its feature ‘The Video Game That Changed Football’. It became the first of a series that continues to this today, with each iteration more advanced and realistic than the previous one. The latest in the series is FIFA 18, which has garnered critical acclaim, and broken sales records across the globe. FIFA 19 is set for release this coming September.

Pro Evolution Soccer (2001–present)

Released in 2001, Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) proved to be a hit with its smooth, expansive gameplay, and exceptional graphics. Its success made it a formidable video game franchise similar to the FIFA line. While praised for its ultra realistic gameplay, the lack of official licensing led to, now iconic, names like Man Red for Manchester United.

Going Mobile

Both FIFA and PES showcase how football video games have evolved with technology. Currently, one of the biggest platforms for football games is on mobile. Even FIFA has gone mobile with the 2016 release of FIFA Mobile.

The fact that FIFA has released mobile games comes as no surprise given how the mobile gaming sector has grown into a multi-billion pound enterprise, according to Venture Beat. Other companies have taken advantage of the mobile gaming boom, adapting their business models to tap into this undeniably massive market — one that is expected to breach $150 billion (£113 billion) next year — by providing fans football-inspired games other than football simulators. Foxy Bingo have several games based on popular sports, including Striker Goes Wild, which shows how gaming companies only need to put football as a background theme to attract fans of the sport. Mobile gaming has given football and gaming fans multiple ways to interact with their favourite sport, whether through a simulator or even non-sports games that have been adapted to be based around football.

Of course, football is as popular as ever, so expect game developers to continue making games based on the beautiful game. Expect them to be even better as well, especially when it comes to the revolutionary FIFA franchise.