November 24 – The United Soccer League (USL), operator of second and third tier professional leagues in the US, has struck a multi-year deal with Konami Digital Entertainment that will see its teams and players featured in its revamped eFootball video game franchise.
It is the first time the USL has concluded a deal with a video game maker and will support Konami’s long-running game, previously known as Pro Evolution Soccer and Winning Eleven.
Konami runs second to EA Sports’ FIFA game in the esports gaming business. EA looks set to drop its FIFA branding following a hike in the license fee demand by FIFA. FIFA has said it will now engage with the whole of the esports business and hasn’t ruled out launching its own game. Konami’s game rebranding adds to what looks to be the early stages of a shifting landscape of football esports.
The eFootball logo will appear on signage during the USL’s nationally televised games, while Konami will also have digital and on-site marketing activations as well as being the presenting partner of the USL Championship Player of the Week and Player of the Month. USL Championship official kits, crests and players in-game images will be available by Spring 2022.
“Today is a huge day for the USL, our clubs, and our fans,” said USL Executive Vice-President, Court Jeske. “For nearly 30 years, soccer video games have been a part of fan culture across the globe…This partnership is timed perfectly with the evolution of USL. We’re excited for our fans to download the game and have the opportunity to play as their favorite USL club, and fans from around the world to be introduced to our league through eFootball.”
Konami’s game is a digital-only title and with the name rebranding to eFootball, the animation system has been overhauled using a new technology called ‘Motion Matching’ which converts the range of movements that players make on the pitch into a series of animations, selecting the most accurate one in real-time. The system provides more than four times as many animations as before.
Konami’s new football game is free-to-play across console, PC and mobile. While matches featuring FC Barcelona, Juventus, FC Bayern, Manchester United and others will be available, for free, at launch, certain game modes will be sold and in-game purchases.
“We’re proud to join forces with the USL as part of our strategic effort to capitalize on the surge in popularity of soccer in the United States. USL has played a pivotal role in the growth of U.S. soccer over the past several decades, and we look forward to building our collective reach in North America while delivering a comprehensive USL experience to eFootball all over the world,” said Yuta Kose, president, Konami Digital Entertainment.
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