In a recent interview eurogamer, Jon Murphy who represents PES as their team leader has strongly criticized EA Sports with the way they handle their licences and also accuses them of stealing key features from Pro Evoloution Soccer and incorprating them into the FIFA games.
How do you access PES’ current health in the UK specifically but also in the wider context of Europe? How’s it doing?
Jon Murphy: It’s probably gone through a period of intensive care and is now showing full signs of recovery. It’s had a massive shot of morphine in its arm, and it’s just about to get out of bed and start fighting again.
In the UK it feels like last year FIFA pulled away from PES, more so than in previous years.
Jon Murphy: You can talk about two things: the quality of the product and the sales of the product. In terms of the sales of the product, clearly EA has been pulling right away from us. To be fair, if you look directly at the UK, we’ve never had a lead on them. We’ve always had a product quality lead on them, but we’ve never overtaken them in sales. There’s always been a sales gap. The sales gap has grown in the UK. That’s obvious. It’s partly due to the quality of the product, which we’ve been improving and now stacks up easily against FIFA with this version. But it’s also to do with the money spent on marketing and the money spent to lock us out of licenses.
There’s a certain amount of work they’ve done very well on PR to convince people that the gap is bigger than it actually is.
What do you mean by that?
Jon Murphy: Opinion has turned against PES in a way that’s been helped along that isn’t necessarily born out by the quality of the product recently. There was a period of dissatisfaction with the product with good reason – several years – where we didn’t know where we were going. But recently the quality of the product has come back, and I don’t think we’ve been given proper respect for that because so many have bought into the idea that FIFA is better, just in the same way people bought into the idea PES was much better than FIFA in years gone by, and it took a while for them to get out of that situation because it was so ingrained. We’re now seeing the opposite’s true. There’s an automatic assumption now that FIFA is just better.
For example, if you look at satisfaction with online experience, we get a lot of complaints from people saying they’re not happy with the lag in PES, and that FIFA has perfect online play. We all know if you play FIFA online you have a whole series of problems. I’m not saying we’re better online or they’re better online, but the opinion swung around to put us under the microscope more than them these days. I also think we don’t get enough recognition for the way we tend to innovate still and they do still tend to follow a lot of what we do.
Can you give me any examples of that?
Jon Murphy: If you look further back into the past of PES you can see they’ve obviously gone from a game that was totally different from PES to one that started copying PES to one that started taking areas PES did well further into the product they have now.
There’s been a whole series of – and I’m sure they won’t disagree with this – taking PES apart and rebuilding theirs in direct comparison. And you see other things, such as the replication of players, which we’re now bouncing back at with our Player ID. And there are other recent examples as well where it seems as soon as we’re announcing one thing they’re announcing the same thing as well. I’m not sure how that happens by accident so often.
What are you saying there? Are you accusing EA of copying PES?
Jon Murphy: Yes.
I wouldn’t say they are actively doing that right now. I’m saying they have a long history of copying PES to get to where they want to be. People shouldn’t forget that’s how they got where they are. You can give them loads of credit for how they’ve got to where they got to now, and you can see it as a totally valuable product in its own right that does have ideas we can all learn from, but we shouldn’t forget that PES innovated all of this stuff and they did copy it.
Is development set up in a way that EA can react so quickly to your announced features to have them in FIFA? Or is it just a coincidence?
Jon Murphy: I have no idea. In many cases it must be coincidental. But then you do see them reacting to what we’ve done last year quite naturally. For example, this year they’re talking about the AI and gameplay as being a key force, which is exactly what we were dealing with last year as a key feature. That’s not a coincidence, I’m sure.
I’m not going to start knocking the fact they’ve pushed the football genre onwards, while we were stagnating, and they’ve invested properly in this generation of consoles. That’s really kicked them on. But it’s just a bit galling at times that people throw FIFA in your face constantly, and you’re thinking, well hold on, the only reason why FIFA is in the position it’s in now is because of PES. And it doesn’t mean to say FIFA will always occupy that position.
You say EA has locked you out of official licenses. I know many people who play FIFA because of the official licenses. Is it something you will ever be able to do something about, or is that the way it’s got to be forever?
Jon Murphy: I hope not. You would hope that with certain licenses the people who have them would see the advantage of pushing it out to the widest audience rather than keeping it exclusive to one product.
You must be trying to convince them to do that. Why don’t they?
Jon Murphy: Because at the end of the day, without going into too much detail, there are obviously a lot of existing contacts between EA and who they deal with and a lot of trust between them, and there’s a lot of money changing hands, and trying to break into those situations is very hard. At the same time it should be pretty obvious that we can’t compete with the massive budgets they have to throw at these things.
So, for example, with the Premier League, we’ve opened up negotiations with them in the past and we’ve got quite close to what we thought was a good offer. It went to EA exclusively. And then after that EA have been dealing directly with the clubs themselves to lock us out of individual club deals as well. So there are several layers we have to be trying to fight through.
You can read the full interview here: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-06-14-pes-hits-back-konami-accuses-fifa-of-copying-reveals-truth-behind-licenses-and-explains-seabass-new-role
Do you have sympathy for Jon Murphy or do you think he’s just bitter? Leave your comments below!