Konami’s ten-year exclusivity of the UEFA Champions League rights is coming to an end.
The Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series, which has long been the only football game where a digital recreation of the Champions League could be made, will no longer have the privilege.
More specifically, the deal will end after the 2018 Champions League Championship concludes in May, which means PES 2019 – which has yet to be announced – will not feature the mode.
Longtime football fans will know that the only big championship missing from EA’s FIFA has indeed always been the UEFA Champions League. Over the years, PES’s presentation paled in comparison to FIFA’s, with the game only having a handful of real-world teams compared to EA’s fully-licensed leagues.
Because EA had rights to practically everything else, PES games instead relied on unofficial names like the Manchester Red (for Manchester United) and so on, while allowing unofficial option packs that changed the names and kits to their real-world counterparts.
Over the years, Konami managed to make individual deals with big teams like FC Barcelona, Liverpool and a few others. But these are likely costly, and only served to highlight how lacking the rest of the game’s offering is compared to EA’s FIFA.
“The UEFA Champions League licence 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,” said Konami’s senior director of brand and business development, Jonas Lygaard.
“This year, however, we will shift our focus into other areas. We will explore alternative ways UEFA and Konami can continue to work together, as our relationship remains strong.”
This news obviously doesn’t confirm whether the 2019 competition will appear in FIFA 19, though that is likely. If EA simply outbid Konami on that one, expect the company to make a big deal of the get at its E3 2018 EA Play showcase.