When it comes to FIFA, your first thought probably depends on your age. For anyone, say over the age of 40, you may attach those four initials to the governing body of the beautiful game. But for any gamers, it takes on a whole different meaning.
Electronic Arts’ FIFA franchise has been the dominant soccer video game for the past quarter-century or so, and in that time, it has grown an army of digital fans in every corner of the globe and beyond.
In the 1980s and first half of the following decade, soccer video games were usually played via a top-down view and this meant that the gameplay was rather primitive, as you scrolled solely up and down the playing field.
However, the launch of FIFA offered a whole new viewpoint, one that was far more immersive than the likes of Kick Off or Sega’s World Cup Italia 90 and from this point, video game soccer became a whole lot more immersive.
As an annual franchise, this has allowed Electronic Arts to perfect its title over the years and now FIFA is a digital juggernaut in the esports landscape as well. It’s one that not only sees players compete casually online across the world, but also take part in official tournaments. And even for the casual viewer it’s possible to make bets on the games.
One reason why the game is so popular is that the makers of FIFA create the players as realistically as possible, and with most official licenses within their possession, it gives the games a sense of realism.
Whether you pick up a controller as Lionel Messi’s Barcelona or Kylian Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain, you really do feel like you are in the game and as Electronic Arts’ famous slogan used to suggest, that is the exact experience they are hoping for.
It’s the ability to live out the fantasies of your idols which has engrossed so many over the years. This has also transformed the playing of FIFA from an at-home activity to the main stage.
Not only that, but these competitions attract huge audiences around the world. And where the audience watches, the ability to place a bet will follow – something that has recently been the case as far as FIFA is concerned.
The name MSDossary may not mean a lot to the man in the street, but within the esports community, he is on a par with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Norwegian starlet Erling Braut Haaland.
This is the man who conquers the world when it comes to the digital discipline of FIFA. And it is not just bragging rights that he collects aplenty, he also receives handsomely sized cheques for his match-winning efforts.
And during lockdown, as people spend more time at home, esports is becoming even more prominent.
The fact that major television broadcasters use FIFA tournaments as genuine content, just shows how far we have come from a quarter-century ago and although critics will argue that is only being used as schedule filler, no one can doubt the entertainment factor.
At the same time, it is not just stars who have transformed from the apartment to the big stage, modern-day soccer professionals are also testing their talents. Earlier this year, an ePremier League invitational tournament took place.
This crown was scooped by Wolverhampton Wanderers Diogo Jota, as the Portuguese star got the better of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, in what was a rare defeat for the Liverpool right-back (be that both on and off the pitch).
Ultimately esports has become intertwined with modern life, and when you consider that you can even bet on FIFA tournament outcomes, it just goes to show that the integration of the digital game is now seamless.