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"I mean this respectfully, but the reason Fifa is so successful is that the game was developed and published a long way from head office."
- Former Electronic Arts exec Tom Stone, speaking to The Guardian about the origins of the popular FIFA games.
Electronic Arts' FIFA series of soccer games has been going strong for over twenty years, with a release list that spans everything from the Amiga to the Game Boy to the PlayStation 4.
Thus, it's interesting to read in a new FIFA retrospective published by The Guardian that the franchise nearly never happened, thanks in large part to the fact that EA is based in the U.S., where interest in soccer/football was tepid in the '90s.
"There was great skepticism in the US about the future of soccer,” EA founder Trip Hawkins told The Guardian. “Nobody cared.”
According to former EA exec Mark Lewis, FIFA was born in the wake of EA's great success with John Madden Football (progenitor of the Madden franchise). Lewis was in London in 1991 to establish a new EA office, and he proposed that the company could make a splash in Europe by putting a bunch of European devs on a new soccer game that could compete with the likes of Sensible Soccer.
"Almost the entire US organisation was opposed to our idea,” Lewis said. “They felt that soccer was too complicated a sport.”
You can find further insight into why, exactly, soccer games seemed like such an especially complicated proposition, and how the FIFA franchise (which nearly started out under the name Team USA Soccer) got started in large part because it was far away from home office oversight, in The Guardian's full feature.