FIFA 19 saw the return of the Champions League after the deal between UEFA and PES publisher Konami expired.
When the news broke, UEFA issued a statement confirming the partnership came to an end after a mutual understanding.
“Konami has been a strong licensing partner for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, with our competition brand being heavily featured within the video game and as part of the popular Konami-organised UEFA Champions League e-sports tournaments’,” said Marketing director of UEFA events Guy-Laurent Epstein.
“It has been a very cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership. 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.”
But what really happened? Did UEFA decide to jump ship as FIFA’s audience continued to skyrocket? Or was it in fact Konami who decided to part ways?
Well, it turns out it was the latter – that’s according to Pro Evolution Soccer’s European brand manager, Lennart Bobzien.
“Obviously we had the Champions League featured in the game for years–I think a decade now–but year over year you need to evaluate whether certain licenses are worth it or not,” he told Gamespot.
“No disrespect to the Champions League–it’s the biggest club competition, it’s an amazing competition–but in the end you also need to analyse what we are actually getting out of the license.
“[And what I would say is,] by losing the UEFA Champions League, it doesn’t mean that we are losing clubs. That’s what loads of people thought when we announced it together with UEFA that we are going different ways.”
Bobzien went on to say the relationship between Konami and UEFA is still strong – and there may be every chance of working together more closely in the near future.
“For the Champions League, we are still in touch with UEFA to explore opportunities, how we can work together in the future,” he said.
“But after this announcement, friends of mine thought, “Oh, now they’re losing Barcelona,” because Barcelona plays in the Champions League. That’s not the case.
“We are not [losing] any team rights from the UEFA Champions League, and therefore just for now, we’ve decided not to renew the contract. But then at the same time obviously also we’ve shifted our focus towards signing loads of new local leagues and also signing some of them exclusively, like the Russian League.”
“Even though we’ve lost this competition, you can still play a similar competition in the game. It might look a bit different, but yeah, you can still play with European teams against each other.
You can read the full interview on Gamepot.