Browse all

What is happening to Konami?

A revolution that for the moment still seems to be too far away, perhaps too far

What is happening to Konami? A revolution that for the moment still seems to be too far away, perhaps too far

At the end of the summer the news that Konami's new football game would arrive in a new Fortnite-style free-to-play version had shaken all the certainties of sports gaming, shortening at least at first the gap that over the years has divided eFootball and FIFA both technologically and aesthetically. Part of Konami's appeal has always been its aesthetics, made of logos and names that are often revisited and invented, due to the fact that EASports has always been ahead of its direct competitor in the jungle of licensing acquisition, grabbing more and more clubs and leagues. With this move, eFootball had started a real revolution with the intention of both breaking FIFA's monopoly and bringing the user into a new dimension of virtual football.

A revolution and a modus operandi that winks at Mark Zuckerberg's much talked about metaverse, creating a hybrid, digital and interconnected ecosystem within the game, light years away from all the logic of sports gaming as we know it today. Konami has already been trying to do this for the last three years, giving its users the possibility to have an "open playground". In the game it is possible to identify oneself in every way with the club, having the possibility of managing a squad, developing young players and at the same time being a real designer, designing jerseys and getting closer and closer to the real dimension, along the lines of what happens in NBA2K where it is possible to customise the avatar both on and off the field. The next step that Konami intends to take with the arrival of eFootball is to create a game practically without any limitation and increasingly open to any type of customisation. An innovative game also capable of building a virtual youth sector, a game that aims to move further and further away from the temporal dimension. Just as the metaverse is considered the natural evolution of the current internet, the eFootball breakthrough seemed to take sports gaming to another level, also giving the possibility of cross-platform, i.e. allowing the user to play against challengers on different consoles.

Today, as we approach the end of November, the revolution promised by eFootball has still not arrived, the long-awaited patch that would have fixed all the bugs in the game has been postponed again and again, until it was postponed for the spring of 2022. Letters of apology have also arrived from Konami to all its players, topped off by refunds to those who had put their faith in the revolution from the very first moment, buying the premium package with the 2,800 eFootball Coins, the game's official token, another element similar to Fortnite

A rather unpleasant situation that destroyed the hype that had been created since the day of its announcement around the game, as demonstrated by the Playstation Store charts where it stood out in front of competitors such as Warzone, Rocket League, Enlisted and Genshin Impact. The announcement of the new game engine, with a revised animation system and improved controls, could only raise expectations, given that over the years Konami has always outperformed EASports in terms of graphics. But even this did not go as planned, since the day of its debut the game has turned into a giant meme, the fault of the players' faces that appeared strangely deformed with expressions and gestures far from reality. 

It's a story that can't be ignored even by those clubs that have decided to turn down FIFA's advances and bet on Konami's innovation, linking their names exclusively to that of the Japanese company. In Italy, eFootball has the exclusive licences of Juventus, Atalanta, Roma, Lazio and Napoli, whose logos will in fact be present in an incomplete and only partially functional product. This is quite a problem, given that for all clubs the logo is a fundamental asset in their marketing dynamics, as demonstrated by the various collaborations and the latest collections that combine football and fashion. It is also a problem for Konami, which in addition to acquiring the licenses of the teams, has also bought the naming rights of the various stadiums but also of the sports centres, as demonstrated by the latest operation carried out with Napoli, which has changed the name of its training centre by adding that of the Japanese company.

And, finally, what about all those pro players who had chosen eFootball for their international tournaments? Konami's failure to act is likely to leave the field open to EASports and therefore FIFA in a market like that of E-Sports that, according to Cross Border Growth Capital, will generate around 1 billion dollars in 2020 alone. It's not for nothing that most European leagues have decided to entrust their ESports leagues to FIFA, leaving only the Bundesliga to eFootball. In the launch month alone FIFA 22 counted 9.1 million players, 7.6 million Ultimate Teams created and 460 million matches played, huge numbers that testify to the enormous work EASports put in first with the introduction of VOLTA (the old FIFA street) and then with the introduction of kits designed by designers and artists in vogue. FIFA has become a meeting point between fashion, football and gaming, an operation repeated by other big brands such as the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and League of Legends, in which the characters of the video game were dressed with clothes of Arnault's brand, or, again of the French brand, the creation of a virtual fashion show inside Animal Crossing. 

For years FIFA has been defining itself more and more as a reality that goes beyond pure gaming, and eFootball has tried to bridge the gap and repeat this operation in a different key and even more complex from certain points of view. At the moment, however, Konami's revolution, so futuristic only a few months ago, seems complex and partly compromised, as well as the dynamics of the game that will probably be postponed to next season.