By that we mean FIFA the videogame — which is contributing to the rise of football in Australia, as the bosses of other codes scratch their heads over what's to be done over the state of modern rugby videogames.
In a recent meeting between AFL club owners, Channel 9 and Collingwood boss Eddie McGuire expressed his anxiety over the popularity of EA's FIFA series, which has been building in popularity over the last few years, and building the popularity of football with it. The growth of football in Western Sydney was mentioned, and no one can ignore the success of the Western Sydney Wanderers as a club.
According to McGuire, "FIFA and the PlayStation is as big as a threat to AFL football as the game of soccer itself."
In the interest of clarity, for the duration of this article, the term "football" will be reserved for the sport in which the foot actually touches the ball.
As McGuire noted, even prominent AFL and rugby players are getting into the game and sharing their fun on social medie — partly because the FIFA games are well made, and partly because we don't have an AFL/NRL/Union video game that can compete in any way. It's that last part that McGuire would be particularly flummoxed on, because it certainly seems impossible to fix.
Over at Fox Footy, there's a small look at the history of videogames dealing with our various local codes of handegg, and it really gives one perspective on how bad the history of these attempts have been.
According to Fox Footy, "Hawthorn star Jordan Lewis estimates that 60 to 70 per cent of his colleagues play games like FIFA, as well as competitors like the NBA 2K series."
The article incorrectly states that 1,300 developers make FIFA every year, when the core team is closer to a couple of hundred. That larger figure could be reached if you include everyone who ever touches the game in terms of QA, PR, localisation, etc, or it could likely be the size of staff at EA Sports' campass in Vancouver.
But even with a few hundred, the issue is clear cut — we just don't have the market size to warrant a huge development project that would create a rugby game that meets 2015's sports game standards. When you're talking about markets, AFL is massively popular in Australia, but it's no World Game.
Aside from the weak business case, the Australian development scene no longer consists of the large studios required to make such a game. We're a nation of small, agile studios built to punch above their weight. Developing a high-quality rugby or AFL game would mean bringing together a patchwork of smaller studios with wildly different pools of experience, or the ironic option of going overseas to make a uniquely Australian product.
Recent attempts at our locally loved sports games haven't been much better. IGN AU recently gave the latest Rugby World Cup 2015 (pictured above) a score of 1.5. For a laugh, you can watch Nathan Lawrence and Tristan Ogilvie rip into it for 10 minutes.