Konami’s long-running partnership with UEFA is set to come to an end after the 2018 UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv on May 25th. The Pro Evolution Soccer series has had the exclusive official rights to the Champions League and Europa League for the past decade but this deal has now run its course.
"It has been a very cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership,” said UEFA marketing director, Guy-Laurent Epstein. 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."
For Konami, it means that from PES 2019 onwards there will be no official branding from the Champions League and the assorted competing teams.
"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,” says Jonas Lygaard, senior director of brand & business development for Konami. "This year, however, we will shift our focus into other areas. We will continue to explore alternative ways UEFA and Konami can continue to work together, as our relationship remains strong."
Make no mistake, this is bad, bad news for PES. The UEFA license has been a huge selling point over the last decade, and a method for Konami’s football series to hold its own against the might of FIFA. EA Sports’ series now holds all the cards as it’s currently the only football game with official team and player licensing. Having the official branding is a big deal for football fans and it assuredly helps shift games. PES still holds the occasional licenses with individual teams, such as Barcelona, Arsenal, and Liverpool in PES 2018, but this is marred by likes of Man Red and Man Blue (Manchester United and City respectively).
The big question now is - will EA step in and scoop up the official licensing for itself? If FIFA 19 controlled both the FIFA and UEFA licensing this could spell doom for the PES series in the long run.
Do you think PES can succeed when it loses out on yet another official license? Do you expect EA to snap up the rights to the Champions League for its FIFA games?