Pro Evolution Soccer is now simply eFootball — and it’s free to play

Pro Evolution Soccer is now simply eFootball — and it’s free to play

Gerard Pique of Barcelona makes a slide tackle in eFootball; his opponent is seen only from the knees down
Image: Konami

Konami’s 20-year-old brand is retired in Unreal Engine 4 overhaul

Konami’s soccer video game, known as Pro Evolution Soccer or Winning Eleven since 2001, is now simply eFootball. No PES, no numbering.

It’s also now free-to-play. And it’s developed in Unreal Engine 4, another franchise first. (From Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 through last year, it had been built with Konami’s Fox Engine, originally developed by Konami’s Kojima Productions for its Metal Gear franchise.)

Thus, Konami is calling eFootball “an all-new football simulation platform,” rather than an iteration and rebranding of PES. The publisher added “eFootball” to the series’ title in 2019.

The six-minute debut trailer for eFootball — which is in development on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, plus iOS and Android devices — showcases the top three European clubs featured in the franchise: Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, the latter of which is exclusive to eFootball and doesn’t appear in EA Sports’ FIFA series.

Konami used the new engine to rebuild the game and “create a one-on-one system that is incredibly thrilling and, most importantly, realistic,” according to the narration in the trailer. This system is called Motion Matching, and it will be a feature of all versions of the game — current console generation and previous.

But from the looks of a development roadmap published Wednesday, eFootball will launch in “early fall” as a relatively bare-bones title, with other systems, modes, and features brought along later. Cross-platform play, for example, is promised in the reveal video, but it’s scheduled to debut later in the fall; cross-platform matches across Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation, and Xbox are set to arrive this winter. Cross-generation play within PlayStation and Xbox will be available at launch.

image showing the development roadmap for 2021 and 2022 for eFootball
Image: Konami

As for eFootball’s free-to-play component, that will be supported by a battle pass system called Match Pass, which will offer tiered rewards (or the means of buying the loot outright). Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and Barcelona will be available for free to all players at launch.

Konami also said it plans to sell “certain game modes […] as optional DLC,” which likely means a buy-in for the game’s career suite, assuming the free-to-play component is mirroring the old PES’ Master League mode.