The Rise and Fall of Football Franchises

The Paddy Power games site allows gaming enthusiasts to gamble on popular casino games, such as roulette or slot machines. However, the more ‘hardcore’ gamers tend to play all sorts of games on gaming consoles. In the past 30 years there have been thousands of games and franchises which have been released, but very few have managed to ‘survive’ for more than a few years.

One of the longest videogame franchises that is still going strong is FIFA. Since the release of the first game in 1993, FIFA has grown into the most iconic videogame series of all time and also one of the most successful.

Although FIFA is currently the biggest football videogame franchise, there have been a few others over the past 30 years that are strong contenders for the top spot.

Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic football videogame franchises of all time – not just FIFA!

Kick Off

Kick Off is one of the earliest football simulation game franchises, with their first game ‘Kick Off’ being published in 1989. For the first time, players were able to play the match from a top-down view of a football pitch.

Apart from the view of the pitch, the game wasn’t visually different from other football games on the market. However, the gameplay and features were unique to anything else.

Unlike other games available, the ball was realistically kicked ahead from the players instead of sticking to the player’s feet, giving the game a degree of difficulty. Features such as fouls, yellow cards and injury time were added which were missing in other games at the time.

Gameplay of Kick Off (1989)

Further editions of the game were released, but they weren’t as popular as the original and received poor reviews.

Kick Off also briefly moved into the football management simulation market when they released Player Manager. It was the first game to combine a management environment (such as tactics and transfers) with a football engine. Despite receiving very good reviews, a sequel was never released.

Sensible Soccer

While the Kick Off series was adding features on the pitch, Sensible Soccer was adding features off the pitch. The release of Sensible Soccer in 1992 allowed users to edit team names for the first time and also utilised a simple, user-friendly control scheme. It also introduced the ‘aftertouch feature’ which enabled effective but unrealistic swerves.

However, it wasn’t until the release of Sensible World of Soccer when the series ‘took off’. Although the gameplay wasn’t too different from the original game, it introduced a comprehensive manager mode for the first time.

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The management mode allowed players to compete in the professional league pyramid, build their own teams and move to different teams without starting a new save. The game also featured approximately 1,500 teams and 27,000 players, all with unique attributes and individual skills.

Sensible Soccer failed to replicate the success of their first two games, but it still has a cult following and is regarded as one of the best and most important video games of all time.


While the Kick Off and Sensible Soccer series are no longer active, the Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series continues to go on, despite not having a large share of the football simulation market any more.

The first game of the series launched in 1995 under the name ‘Jikkyou World Soccer: Perfect Eleven’ in Japan but was called ‘International Superstar Soccer’. It was one of the most innovative football games at the time, showing diversified players on the same team and having numbers of the back, corresponding to real-life players of the time.

The first ‘official’ launch of the Pro Evolution Soccer series released in 2001 with ‘Pro Evolution Soccer’. The game received positive reviews, praising its realistic gameplay and focus on features such as ball control and player tracking.

Since the release of the first game in the series, Konami has continued to produce a new game every year. Despite yearly releases, Konami has continued to add new features and refine old ones every year in order to create the most realistic football simulation possible.

In the 2019 edition of the series, players will now be able to pull of no-look passes, edge turns, dipping shots, and rising shots.

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Although PES tries to create the most realistic football simulation possible, the lack of licenses for teams and leagues compared to FIFA often puts people off. However, it is still one of the most popular football franchises around, and is usually the best performing sports game in Japan.


PES may be the second most popular football simulation video games series in the world, but it is no secret that FIFA is miles ahead; especially when it comes to number of units sold. In the first week of FIFA 18’s release. The game sold over 5 million units whereas PES 2018 only managed to sell around 239,000 units.

Not only is the series dominating in terms of units sold, they also have the most ‘licenses’ available with players being able to play in countries all of the world with authentic team names, kits, and stadiums.

The first game of the FIFA series was released in 1993 under the name ‘FIFA International Soccer’. It was positively received and lauded by critics for the details of the players in game and the overall presentation. It was also one of the very few games at the time that utilised an isometric viewpoint.

Like the PES series, FIFA began releasing annual titles a few weeks after the new season kicked off in order to provide players with the latest squads available as well as introducing new features into the game.

In recent years FIFA has been criticised with their lack of new features being added to the game, but the series is as popular as ever. Their Ultimate Team game mode is one of the popular modes in gaming at the moment, with users able to build their ‘Ultimate Team’ by playing games, buying players, and opening packs. As things stand, it is unlikely that any football game series will overtake FIFA any time soon. Their recent acquisition of the UEFA license, which was formerly owned by PES, gives them even more dominance in the market.

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Considering the strong position that EA Sports and the FIFA series is currently in, it doesn’t seem that FIFA’s dominance of the football simulation market will be ending any time soon.