There were rumors that EA was going to move their sports games to the Unreal Engine and announce that change at last month’s EA Play. While that didn’t happen, another popular sports title is. Today, PES revealed that they won’t be releasing a standard game for 2020, instead opting to update eFootball PES 2020. On top of that, the PES series is moving to the Unreal Engine for their games on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

I quite welcome the move. Konami’s FOX Engine was pretty good but considering it’s exclusive to their developed titles, it’s somewhat limited in terms of innovation. Konami isn’t releasing a strong or deep catalog of games, so building on it and learning from others isn’t possible. On the other hand, Unreal Engine is so commonly used and because of that, the development team can bring in staff who are already familiar with the engine and improve on different areas that may have been lacking.

eFootball PES 2020 was a fine sports game. Wasn’t necessarily memorable but it maintained the status quo for the PES franchise which has stayed the course of the last few years. This ‘season update’, as they are calling it, is probably a smart move. They can make minor changes, offer the game at a discount, and focus all their resources on making PES 2022 an incredible experience. This is something EA SPORTS can’t do and only puts more pressure that FIFA 21 on PS5/XSX starts the generation on the right foot.

We should start hearing more about FIFA 21 in the next couple of weeks. Even without a strong competitor to challenge EA SPORTS on the pitch, they can’t afford to not put out a strong product on both current and next-gen.

Update: July 16, 2020

This morning, the first trailer for eFootball PES 2021 came out and we also got details about the game. So, it’s out mid-September (almost two months from now) and it’s coming out at a discounted price (the standard edition is $42.99 CDN and it appears that if you own PES 2020, you’ll get a further 20% discount). That comes out as a $29.99 USD price, so I think it’s a fair price for a game we know isn’t really building too much from its predecessor.

PES 2021 won’t have partnerships with either Milan sides (AC or Inter), which is a bummer for me as I like AC Milan. It also doesn’t seem like we’ll have any new club partners. The licensing seems to be the same leagues from 2020 but updates will be staggered in the same way they’ve done for a few games now. I didn’t play the PES 2020 update of Euro 2020, but National Teams from Europe are in the game, so that’s nice.

It doesn’t also seem like it will include any of the sport’s recent rules and regulations updates. So, that means no fourth or fifth subs in matches and there also won’t be in-game break or visual changes to reflect empty stadiums. This is a bit of let down, especially as FIFA has approved the use of more than three subs in a match for at least another year.

It was smart to get in front of this right away. From my early readings of this, there doesn’t seem to be any questions or hidden info that they are withholding. They are still pushing MyClub Content, including some sizeable bonuses if you upgrade to the Club Editions of the game (according to Steam, the Club Editions are $49.99 CDN).

Outside of the low chance that we hear of any new club or league partnerships, I don’t think we’ll hear more about this game until then. From what I’ve read across the web, the response to this is actually much better than expected. I think the PES community knows the game’s place in the sports gaming landscape but I think other sports games will look at this.

Again, I love this move and I hope that NHL followed a similar move by releasing a season update of NHL 21 on current-gen at a discounted price then push for hard for NHL 22 on next-gen. They’ve done it before with NBA Live, so it’s not unheard of. In any case, this PES news has me interested in jumping back into PES 2020 and seeing how much has changed since launch (PES 2020 is currently available through Xbox Game Pass).