For nearly three decades, video games have been a huge part of football culture, with titles like PES and FIFA first capturing the attention of football fans in the early to mid 1990s. As time has passed, video game creators have used various strategies to ensure the success of their titles, the most recent of which is making their games free-to-play.
Free-to-play video games have become an established part of console gaming, with popular titles such Fortnite and Warzone demonstrating the potential of releasing games that don't cost anything to play.
Game developers such as Konami and Strikerz have taken a page out of this particular book as they have made their games free-to-play. GOAL explores the free-to-play football games and how you can play them.
eFootball (formally known as PES) is a free-to-play football video game which is developed by Konami and available on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Playstation users can download and play eFootball by searching for the game title on the PlayStation store. Xbox users can do the same via the Microsoft store, while PC users can access the game through the Steam website.
Konami also made eFootball 2021 available on both Android and iOS devices, and has done the same with eFootball 2022.
PES (or Winning Eleven as it's known in Japan) was Konami's take on a football video game, originally released in 1995, the game became a direct competitor to EA's FIFA franchise over the years. Konami began the game's transition to eFootball PES in 2020, but has now officially decided to remove its PES branding for good, simply naming the game, eFootball.
eFootball already supports crossplay over multiple device and platforms.
Strikerz is developing and publishing UFL, a free-to-play football video game, which is set to be released in 2022. It will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
Once released, the game will be available to download on the PlayStation and Microsoft store for PlayStation and Xbox users respectively.
Strikerz has yet to announce an official release date, but Earlygame predicts the game will be released in September 2022, after the start of the new football season.
UFL has already secured some big names in the football industry as they’ve partnered up with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and West Ham. Ronaldo will be on the cover of the game.
As expected, UFL will include a variety of game modes, including one similar to EA's FIFA Ultimate Team, with the exception that your progress in the mode will not be reset every year, as it is with EA's.
The game's crossplay features have yet to be announced.
What is free-to-play?
Free-to-play video games allow players to access their games without having to pay up front and do not require payment to continue playing. Free-to-play differs from traditional games which require payment before gaining access to the game or services.
Advertisements and brand sponsorships are a common source of revenue for free-to-play games, something which Fornite has become renowned for.
Furthermore, in-game purchases are also a significant source of revenue, something which eFootball currently deploys.
What is the difference between 'free' and 'free-to-play'?
Free means that the game is completely free. You are able to play and have access to the entire game, free of charge. Free-to-play on the other hand, means that the base game is free, but some contents of the game will require micro-transactions, along with other in-game purchases.
Will FIFA 23 be free-to-play?
It is currently unknown whether FIFA 23 will be free-to-play; EA has not yet confirmed the pricing of their latest football franchise game.