Football Owes Part Of Its Australian Growth To FIFA

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.

[Fox Footy]


    If Big Ant were given a decent crack at it (and some additional funding from the AFL), I think they could create as good as we're going to get.

    AFL live was the highest selling Aussie Rules video game before Tru Blu moved development of the AFL Live 2 to Wicked Witch (for commercial reasons no doubt) and they took a massive step back.

    Also it's fair to say the AFL have a bit of cash to throw at game development (a few lazy mill) which they should view as an investment into the sport itself.

      I feel like they could make it happen, but they'd largely be bankrolling it without recouping. It'd be a direct loss, but it would be good for the sport, so whether or not it's worth it in an indirect sense is harder to tell.

        True. They'd essentially be subsidising the development to get it as close as possible to FIFA quality wise to get potential AFL supporters / players to play it instead. As history has shown, a commercially viable AFL game without assistance cannot deliver that quality.

    I remember the funniest but true comedy skit about soccer was from Comedy Inc with them taking the piss out of those memorabilia ads that used to be on during the cricket with a jersey that had "fuck wogball" crossed out and "go soccerroos" written instead and i find rings very true.

    Where i grew up no one gave a crap about soccer until the Soccerroos had some success in the world cup and than overnight kids at school were playing it during recess.

      Just shows how backwards Australians are then?

      Biggest sport in the world and all they can do is talk smack because they are poopie at it...


    You had me at handegg.

    And F Eddie Maguire, guy's an idiot bigot.

    It's 100% Weak business case - it's not that an attempt hasn't been made, but the resources of Australian developers (now less after the Government doesn't provide funding) are low compared to the likes of an EA. With social media following and digital streaming of football, geographical and time boundaries matter less and less.

    I think that the game of football is far easier to mirror in a video game than aussie rules. Aussie rules is far more complex in terms of the rules involved and the way the game is played. In fairness I'm no afl expert but when I watch it its hard to make sense of the positions and formations whereas football just seems more organised and easier to understand. I always laugh when Eddie Maguire cracks it that his kids play Fifa on the ps because he's so anti football.

      Yeah, pretty much this. As well as the fact there's twice as many players on the field, which would throw up some headaches for the developers when it came time to program AI, I imagine. Especially as most of the time AFL players themselves don't seem to know where they're supposed to be.

      Nah this is definately not the case, it's more the fact that FIFA and PES are based on a much bigger sport, they have the financial gain to continue making and more importantly improving the game

      Whereas no big name developers want to waste their time making a game for a sport only one country plays...

      I'm inclined to think that AFL could actually do quite well in video game form. Maybe even better than football. Since AFL consists of a lot of 1v1 battles all over the place, and the design of these video games usually filters down to 1v1 battles anyway, as there will usually be one or two people with controller in their hands.

      In FIFA, you basically take on defenders one at a time. It can be seen as 1v1s, though it isn't really, but whoever loses out just selects the next player down the pitch and tries again. The design of an AFL game could focus on that and succeed. But it would have a LONG way to go to match EA's years and years of accumulating animations with the support of the largest mo-cap facility in the northern hemisphere.

        That's a good point but I do feel like you need a sense of order that afl just doesn't have. It's such a dynamic sport with players running in all directions and the lack of offside means that the players are located all over the park. I just don't see how it would be a fun game to play. In saying that, I never though a video game could be made to simulate mma and the last few were pretty bloody good!

    Funnily, EA used to have a hand in AFL games, but they weren't all that memorable.

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