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PES 2014 & The Next-Gen Question Mark

So you’ve absorbed the PES 2014 news and many of you are over the moon. But as always there are some that will feel a little disappointed by the absence of a Next-Gen version this year.

There is a logical reason for this, we’ll break it down for y’all. Its not because Konami are lazy, not confident in their product or because they don’t want to challenge the competition. These decisions are made by taking a wide range of factors into account, mainly financial and developmental.

Financial Factors

Please note, some of the figures used in this article may not be 100% accurate. They are only used to paint a picture.

Analysing this decision solely from a financial perspective, Konami’s strategy with PES2014 is logical. A section of the PES community may be disappointed but the truth is the making games is a business, influenced by the most basic equation that Profit equals Revenue minus Costs. Given the current financial climate globally, games companies must make decisions with long term insight/strategy. Konami have invested in developing a new engine and would love to showcase it on the forthcoming Next-Gen platforms, however, the time and effort required to produce such a version would not be “rewarded financially” or balanced by sales figures.

The PES series sells approximately 6 million units per year on PS3 and Xbox 360. The install bases of both consoles combined is approximately 130 million (total sales 150 million consoles – estimated duplicate purchases accounting for 20 million). Therefore, we can deduce that 4.5% of Current-Gen console owners globally buy PES. Interestingly, with sales of 12 million on Current-Gen the mega-marketed FIFA series is only purchased by 9% of console owners.

The two tables below present the sales figures for the PS3 and Xbox 360 during the first 6 – 7 months after their respective launches. Sony shifted 4.32 million units between November 2006 and June 2007, whilst Microsoft sold 5 million consoles between November 2005 and June 2006. Furthermore, those sales figures were achieved in a more stable financial climate (pre-recession of 2008). Let’s consider that the PS4 and Xbox One will launch at $400 (US Dollars) and that they both sell 5 million respective units between November 2013 and June 2014. That would provide a Next-Gen install base of approximately 10 million by June 2014.

Console Sales

Sources: PlayStation 3 Sales & Xbox 360 Sales

If Konami released PES 2014 as a Next-Gen title, they would be lucky to sell 450,000 copies (even that figure would be ambitious). Moreover, it is likely that customers purchasing a console from March onwards may wait till PES 2015 is launched in September/October 2014 before making an investment. Quite simply the install base in the first few months after launch would simply be too small to justify the financial commitment Konami must undertake to release a Next-Gen PES 2014.

Developmental Factors

Historically most launch football games have been below par, primarily due to time constraints, implementation of new engines and the developers lack of familiarity the hardware. The first 12 months following the launch of the Xbox 360 saw 3 football games launched on the console, FIFA World Cup 2006 (April 2006), FIFA 06 (September 2006) and PES 6 (October 2006). It’s fair to say that all three games were poorly received. There is a case to be argued here that none of the above titles were running on new engines, and more importantly, developers have identified better ways to manage cross-generational transitions with forward planning. Thus, many of you could argue that good football games can be produced. Additionally, the new PES engine was designed to be scalable, i.e. it will utilise the hardware/resources available to provide the best experience possible. These are all valid points, but there is a lot more to it than simply building a new engine that is scalable and then you magically have better results on better hardware.

The new engine was developed by Konami with Next-Gen in mind, however, it was also built in order to benefit the huge install base of Current-Gen owners who may be late adopters of the PS4/Xbox One. Even with the ability of the new engine to scale to the better hardware of the Next-Gen systems, the game will still require various elements and assets to be updated. For example, all the assets such as player faces/textures and game-play programming/AI and so on must be updated over time to benefit from the superior hardware components available in Next-Gen consoles ultimately leading to a better overall experience. Furthermore, the development team must fine-tune the game to run on Next-Gen platforms with different architectures. This again requires considerable development time. Time that some may argue is better served refining the Current-Gen game to be the best it can be and providing Konami with a good platform moving forwards having impressed with PES 2014.

The Bigger Picture

There is no denying that the Next-Gen FIFA announcement by EA Sports at the Xbox One reveal has made the PES faithful slightly envious of the competition. It is important to realise that EA are a bigger company than Konami with more resources and finances available. EA are probably more comfortable launching a Next-Gen FIFA, even with a small install base since the company can afford to take financial risk. That risk may payoff for them particularly if they have invested heavily in the EA Sports Ignite Engine, spent years developing it, thus allowing them to build a platform and take an early lead in the Next-Gen football face-off.

Konami has a different strategy, one with the focus on providing the fans with the best footballing experience they can provide on Current-Gen for this season. In addition, they are also targeting a much wider audience with emerging markets such as South America and various parts in Asia. Comments by various members of the PES team lead us to believe that they would rather not release an average Next-Gen game now, instead taking the time to further develop the new engine and provide a truly Next-Gen experience with PES 2015.

There is no right or wrong answer, just a little disappointment for the PES fans who are early adopters of the PS4 and Xbox One. We live in a complicated world that often divides us with opinions and beliefs. But at least we have one thing in common, this beautiful game who all love to play and watch.

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