FIFA, one of the biggest annual releases in the video game business, may be on its 2016 release, but it had to start somewhere to get to where it it. That was 1993 with FIFA International Soccer, and we’ve seen a new FIFA every year since then. Shouldn’t the current game be called FIFA 22 then?
To go back to 1993, we’re talking about SEGA Genesis/Megadrive and Super Nintendo consoles. We’re talking Panasonic 3DO, Commodore Amiga, MS-DOS, Game Boy, Sega Game Gear, Sega CD, and Sega Master System. It’s crazy to think that there were that many consoles back then. But it meant getting FIFA International Soccer into the hands of more gamers, and what a start it was.
FIFA was different from previous football/soccer titles in that it made use of an isometric view, as opposed to Sensible Soccer’s famous top down style. FIFA International Soccer included four game modes – Exhibition, Tournament, Playoffs and League, and only featured international teams. It wasn’t until the next FIFA that we saw club football being added. The game was played with only 3 buttons. One for passing and switching players, one for lobbing, and one for shooting. How far we’ve come!
FIFA International Soccer included 48 national sides in total, plus a team called EA All Stars, who still exist to this day, in every release. None of the players had real names back then, well, not in the game. Stealing some information from Wikipedia of all places, we learned some more history about the game ourselves, and its development.
SEGA Megadrive gameplay
“Electronic Arts (EA) had first ventured in the sports games market in 1988 with an American Football title, John Madden Football. Updated versions of the game, along with golf and ice hockey games followed under the EASN (Electronic Arts Sports Network) banner. EA’s European arm carried out research into the possibility of a sports game that would appeal to a European audience and decided that a football game would stand the best chance of success, predicting high sales figures. EA US gave the go-ahead for the project to proceed, and a team of ten developers at EA’s Canadian studios began work on the project led by Bruce McMillan. Initially, the development took place for the Sega Mega Drive platform under the working title of EA Soccer, with a small budget of around $50,000-$100,000.”
EA anticipated sales of around 300,000 copies of FIFA International Soccer in Europe. In the first four weeks alone, over 500,000 sales were made, and despite its December release, became the best selling game of 1993.
FIFA went on to be the stellar football game which at one point, fell behind Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer for a period, but then came back with flying colours, and annual innovations from 2006 onwards. We can only imagine what FUT would have been like back then…
There was also a nifty way of tackling in FIFA International Soccer, by pressing pass and shoot at the same time, if I recall correctly. This would make your player lash out and push your opponent. The referee would then pursue you to give you a card, but you could run away, and this could last for minutes until you stopped, which you can see below, in hilarious form.
So, FIFA is here to stay, and it’s had quite a long career. Well done EA, and well done FIFA!