After a decade of licensing deals, game developer Konami and the UEFA Champions League will be ending their partnership. The deal was the key to Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, a franchise that has been running since 2001 and stands as the only alternative to EA’s massive FIFA line of games. The partnership will officially expire on May 26, 2018, after the Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine.
While the Pro Evolution Soccer series typically lagged behind FIFA in terms of the number of licensed teams and content—leaving out essential groups like the English Premier League and German Bundesliga—the series found success over its long lifespan. When all is said and done, the series will conclude with almost 87 million total copies it sold. This impressive mark puts it just shy of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise’s near 88 million… and ahead of The Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil, and the Tom Clancy line.
“It has been a very cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership,” says Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director of UEFA Events SA. “UEFA would like to thank Konami for its tremendous commitment and support to UEFA club competitions for the last decade, and we look forward to continuing to work with Konami in the sphere of UEFA national team football.”
Speaking for Konami, Jonas Lygaard, senior director of brand & business development, says, “The UEFA Champions League license has given us a platform to create unique experiences and provide football fans from all over the world with an opportunity to enjoy this competition first-hand.”
The end of this deal comes as Konami continues to move away from traditional console gaming and into the mobile space. After their extensive feud with Hideo Kojima and his ousting, the company announced in 2015 that they would cease all production on AAA console games—except Pro Evolution Soccer. With titles like Bomberman R and Metal Gear Survive clearly not living up to expectations and FIFA continuing to dominate soccer sims, it seems like the company really has had it with console development and will focus full-time on mobile, including their upcoming Castlevania iOS project.
Lygaard seems to echo this sentiment. “This year, however, we will shift our focus into other areas,” he says. Though he does note, “We will continue to explore alternative ways UEFA and Konami can continue to work together, as our relationship remains strong.”
I suppose PES fans can look forward to a mobile installment in the future.