A brief history of football video games

Football is an iconic sport with over 200 years of history. Naturally, such a historic sport had to become part of everyday life. Over a billion people tuned in to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It stands to reason that such a popular sport would become a video game powerhouse. Today we are going to take you through the history of football video games. We will compare successful early releases to modern blockbusters. If you like this article, you might also enjoy our work to uncover the details of the development of the NBA 2K series.

Football games over the years

Over the years, many game genres have featured football-themed games. For example, football fans can play football themed slots from New Zealand online casino. Even before video games, people imitated soccer with unique tabletop games like foosball. The first football video games were released in the late 70s. NASL soccer dropped on the Intellivision in 1979. You can search YouTube for a rough impression of what gameplay was like back then.

Football in the 70s – NASL Soccer

Nowadays, NASL soccer can seem totally unplayable. At the time, however, the bland 2D graphics and stiff gameplay were innovations. Technically speaking, the game had some extremely basic elements. It showed the score and time on the pitch, the players (in different colors to differentiate the two teams) and the ball. The 1981 catalog entry for NASL soccer listed corner kicks, goal kicks, and free kicks, actions that have been regular aspects of football matches over the past few decades, as basic features.

NASL Soccer (Intellivision, 1979)

Innovate in the 80s

By the late 80s, football games were starting to get better. In 1985, the company that would become Tecmo launched Tehkan World Cup in the arches. world Cup used a trackball controller, which provided a unique way to control the speed and direction of shots. The game camera was pulled back further than most football games, which was ahead of its time.

In 1987, Game Day II introduced the kickometer, which controlled how hard you kicked the ball. Football MicroProse tried to recreate Tehkan World Cup fire control, but on joystick. Emlyn Hughes International Football changed the game visually. Players were now better defined; you could say that each team wore a jersey and shorts. The characters had Hair now.

International Soccer Emlyn Hughes (Commodore 64, 1988)
International Soccer Emlyn Hughes (Commodore 64, 1988)

EHIS played with the concept of momentum. Specifically, when a player was spinning, they would slow to a stop before spinning, rather than instantly stopping and changing direction. Players could pass in 5 directions. Five!

The 90s – The birthplace of modern football games

Football games really started to take off in the 90s. The football games we know and play now all started here. Sensible Football dominated the football market in the early 90s. Sensible Software developers had previously worked on the Football MicroProse series. Where MicroProse was slow, especially compared to other C64 games from the 80s, Sensible Football felt lightning fast. Sensible Football the camera zoomed out to a bird’s eye view. With a better view of the field, players could make more strategic decisions that included more foresight. Sensible Football also came to PC.

soccer video games
Sensible Football (Amiga, 1992)

In 1993, Electronic Arts published FIFA International Football, the gargantuan ancestor EA Fifa series. Even this, the first EA Fifa game, became the best-selling Sega game of 1993. The first entry in the series used an isometric point of view, presenting a smaller, more dramatic slice of the action. You could choose one of 78 international teams and compete in the game’s Tournament mode, which mimicked the format of the UEFA European Championship.

The biggest difference between the first versions of Fifa and their modern counterparts, besides improving graphics, are licenses. In their agreement to FIFA International Football, EA was not permitted to use player names or likenesses, team logos, or stadiums. Slowly EA was allowed to bring more licensed teams into their game. FIFA Soccer 95 featured clubs from six leagues across Europe, including the Premier League. The next year, FIFA Soccer 96 includes player names and licenses.

FIFA Football 96 (Sega Genesis, 1996)

The modern era – FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer

This brings us to the modern football game. EA Fifa The series continued to grow, improving graphically and perfecting its physics engine. That and Konami Pro Evolution Soccer The series had established itself as the first simulation football game. These games were rivals in the sim football market, and the battleground was licensing. The graphics continued to improve, but every major franchise had a commitment to realism, which began to focus on player and club names and likenesses.

So what are the most recent changes in football games? Fifa focused on its Hypermotion technology, in which full 11v11 matches are captured in motion to try to make animations and movement as smooth as watching a real game. Recently, Pro Evolution Soccer renamed eFootball and become free-to-play, which could revolutionize the entire football game market. Fifa would have already considered a similar approach.

Modern football game iterations have seemed to stagnate. Like a bit of levity, it’s fun to look back and see how far the genre has come, from ambling stick figures to full-body motion capture. With graphics technology reaching its peak, it will be interesting to see how football game developers continue to push the genre without relying on making things look better.

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Carolyn M. Daniel