The current state of the world has had a great impact on everyone. The gaming industry is no different. Many feel that the newest announcement from Konami regarding their plans for the next installment of Pro Evolution Soccer 2021 is yet another decision impacted by the pandemic. For those unaware, Konami has just announced that they plan to introduce a season update for PES 2021 to the already existing PES 2020 game that players already own. This will replace the need for the company to create an entirely new game. The update is said to have a special anniversary price which has yet to be disclosed. If I had to guess I would bet this update will cost $30 which should be a relief to many as an entire new game was sure to cost players at least $60. The new season patch will have updates to team rosters with the likely addition of tweaked overall ratings for players. Definitive details for the update are still few and far between, but this is what we know so far.
Are Yearly Season Updates the Future?
Konami may have had their plans for an entirely new game derailed by the pandemic, but they may have opened up a new business model for future sports games, intentionally or not. Now, it is no secret that Unreal Engine 5 is nearing completion. This is the engine PES uses for their games. It could very well be that Konami felt that they have reached as high as they could with the current engine in their games and felt another whole game to be an unnecessary. However, I feel that it is far more likely that this virus hit Konami harder than most prohibiting them from being able to put the full effort required into creating an entire new game for the series. The companies that make sports games are traditionally far too greedy to leave half of the sale price for their games on the table. I would guess that Konami is no different in this case and simply had no other choice, but I think they could be on to something.
What is stopping sports games from taking this approach every couple years, if not every other year? How much truly changes year to year in sports games across the board except for team rosters and the ratings of players? In my highly regarded and steadfast opinion, there is absolutely no need to throw out an new game every year and sell it for $60, or in the case of NBA 2K21 $70. The only explanation is that these companies are so astonishingly money hungry and simply, they know that they can get away with it because their community wants to stay current and competitive. Sports games make a small fortune every year through microtransactions alone. They in no way rely on the sales of the new games to make their profit.
“If you are a player that shares the opinion of opposing the reset than you should stay in the offline game modes”
The only problem I see with the yearly update approach is that players will be reluctant to have their online ultimate team rosters of collected high rated players reset for the new year update, because it is still technically the same game. This outrage has already been expressed from players of PES. The rumored plan is that Konami will reset the the My Club rosters causing players to have to grind for the superstars all over again. Many don’t like this idea and want to keep their current teams, but this has always been a big draw year to year for any sports game. Every year players rush to build their online team rosters in order to stay competitive against other players. If for whatever reason you fall behind it doesn’t matter how good you are at the game, the other team’s stacked roster will beat you on talent alone. This reset is necessary in keeping the competitive draw and endless grind that leads to the day in and day out return of the playerbase. If Konami chooses not to reset the My Club rosters any new coming player would be so hopelessly out manned that it just wouldn’t be fun to play.
If you are a player that shares the opinion of opposing the reset than you should stay in the offline game modes like Franchise for Madden games or Master League in PES. If you find yourself against it than you just don’t have what it take to play the competitive online aspects of sports games, and that’s okay. That’s why they put the offline modes into these games, but you don’t share the right to dictate the online game mode features, because you built your team in July and August after most of the higher competitive players stopped playing. Save your effort and outrage for something important.
“Rebellions may be built on hope, but the First Galactic Empire couldn’t hold a flame to the EA Empire”
Players may not be getting the expected full new game for PES 2021, but we may finally be seeing the start of a new concept when it comes to future sports games. We could soon see larger games like Madden and the 2K series adopt the approach of yearly season updates for their games if not every other year, than maybe every two years. There has been a desire for this plan of development in sports games for awhile. There have been so many years we get a new game and clearly nothing has changed that couldn’t have been fit into an update patch. If they really wanted to the developers could absolutely take an approach similar to the way Destiny adds on game expansions, and probably get three years on each one. The problem is that everyone knows these companies are just too greedy to think like that. It may be a wildly popular approach to the community, but the community’s desires rarely match up with the desires of their stockholders. Could this be the start of something great for the community? Sure it could. Will we see a new concept adopted by the sports genre of games? Not a chance. Players can hold out hope, but likely will be let down. Rebellions may be built on hope, but the First Galactic Empire couldn’t hold a flame to the EA Empire that has time and again demonstrated their dominance over the genre.