As it’s the most popular sport in the world, it’s hardly surprising to know that there’s been an almost endless supply of soccer games for video game players to enjoy from the comfort of their own homes.
However, as with all genres of video games, some hit the back of the net perfectly while others deserve a red card. The digital versions of the game have come so far, and some would say you could plot the development of the technology through the games! The first versions were reboxed versions of pong with a different title, but now the most modern iterations of the sport feature motion-tracked action and ultra-realistic aesthetics.
But, we’re not going to go through them all; we’ve decided to take a look at three of the most influential and successful interpretations in a little more detail.
International Soccer (1983) – Commodore 64
This game was one that elevated soccer titles to a new level, and when this game was released, it was a huge hit. Produced for the home computer that was outselling PCs in the US, International Soccer pushed the game further than we’d seen in Intellivision Soccer (NASL Soccer) which had gone before it. From a side-on viewpoint, the game featured two teams of seven players, and it just captured the essence of the sport. Thanks to Andrew Spencer’s title, throw-ins, corners, and goal kicks became commonplace and moved things forward graphically. Players had gone from wireframe animated characters to more chunky, lifelike representations; it was the game that moved soccer forward digitally into the burgeoning era of video gaming.
Football Manager (1992- Present Day) – PC/Mac/Xbox/Switch/Mobile
For those in the know, the Football Manager title we know and love today differs from the one first introduced back in the early 90s. The initial game created by Kevin Toms had minimal match action but first introduced the concept of buying and selling players and managing your own team. It led to what we have today, a title that can take over your life! Football Manager is so in-depth that you can affect the fortunes of the biggest clubs in the world and the smallest. You might want to see if you can take the current favorites for the Premier League with Ladbrokes, Manchester City, to new heights, spending millions in the process. However, the beauty of the game is you can switch your attention to San Diego Loyal if you wish, a completely different level of soccer. If the mood truly takes you, you may even attempt both simultaneously. It’s so detailed now, that it’s influenced the professional game too as detailed by Gamespot; former employees of Sports Interactive who now make the game, have gone on to get work in the sport itself, highlighting just how close to the real thing Football Manager has become.
FIFA Soccer (1993-Present day) – PC/Xbox/PS/Switch/PC/Mobile
It would be impossible not to have FIFA on this list because ever since it arrived in our homes in 1993, it’s never left with consistently strong sales highlighting its popularity. Although it had a strong start, things kicked up a notch when FIFA 96 was released; as EA did a deal with FIFA to introduce real player names and likenesses to the title, it suddenly felt like more than just a game. By 1998 there was a tie-in with the World Cup, which brought the first opportunity for gamers to take control of the US Men’s National Team and plot their route to glory. While Pro Evolution Soccer came and threatened to upset EA’s hold on soccer games at the turn of the millennium. Still, FIFA continued to be the franchise gamers preferred, with fluid gameplay and its TV-style presentation. In FIFA ’10 as players experienced Ultimate Team for the first time, and the game mode has gone on to become one of the most played modes in any title on any genre, and it’s earned EA millions of dollars as a result. FIFA 22 is the 30th iteration of the game, and it’s still hot property, as Game Informer reported over 9 million players logged on within a week of its release, playing in 460 million matches.
While there have been so many titles released, we have the experience we do today through the influence of these three, and for that, we are very thankful.