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Could We See a 2K Soccer Game in the Future?

2K Soccer Game

Operation Sports

Could We See a 2K Soccer Game in the Future?

It’s been a whirlwind few months for us soccer gaming fans. Apart from the regularly scheduled annual releases by EA (FIFA 22) and Konami (eFootball 2022), there have been murmurs from new studios with the recently announced UFL currently in development. Add to that the break-up of FIFA (the football governing body) and EA, and that leads many of us to wonder if perhaps a 2K soccer game could exist somewhere down the line.

With its dominance in the basketball arena with NBA 2K, which effectively killed off EA’s NBA Live franchise, and the high regard NFL 2K remains in to this day, it seems fair to say that 2K has the financial means and technical savvy to make a great game of footy. All 2K needs in theory is a slight opening to try and squeeze a way into a market traditionally dominated by two giants.

A 2K Soccer Game?

2K Soccer

The rumor mill heated up after news broke when Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick was asked about entering the soccer arena by an investor on a stakeholders call:

Drew Crum (Stifel Financial Corp.) — Analyst

And my follow-up concerns the headlines related to FIFA. Just curious around your interest in furthering your exposure to soccer beyond Top Eleven.

Strauss Zelnick (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer)

We are so thrilled to have Nordeus in the Take-Two family. And they’re just crushing it, which is great. Top Eleven is a great title, a beloved title. And I just couldn’t be happier to be in the soccer manager business through Top Eleven with the Nordeus team.

That’s a big step forward for us. We haven’t been in that sport before. And I think I’ll leave it at that today.

“And I think I’ll leave it at that today.”

I’m not one to project, but that quote seems like this topic is something that 2K has at least had internal discussions on. While 2K currently has its version of Football Manager in Top Eleven, which it recently purchased through an acquisition of Nordeus in 2021, there hasn’t been a soccer game produced by Take-Two or one of its other affiliated studios in quite some time.

Would 2K Want To Enter The Soccer Arena?

While we can’t give a definitive answer, the real question is why wouldn’t they want to enter the soccer market? We’re talking about a gaming market (not just soccer games) that between consoles, mobile devices, and PCs earned roughly $159 billion in 2020. Of this $159 billion, we know that role-playing games dominate, but sports games make up an important share with soccer being the most popular sport in the world.

EA’s FIFA has traditionally dominated this market and has pulled away from Konami’s PES/eFootball series, largely behind its successful Ultimate Team mode that prominently features microtransactions, a point of contention among gamers. 2K and Take-Two certainly have the financial means with an estimated revenue of $3.09 billion in 2020, so where other companies might struggle to get the funding required, Take-Two could certainly afford to undertake such an effort if they so choose.

What Would 2K Need To Do To Enter The Competition?

The financial backing to produce a soccer title that can compete with EA’s FIFA series is certainly the most important element needed to take this step. The financial means would need to be solid in order to acquire the requisite licenses. With EA potentially breaking with FIFA and thus rebranding by the end of calendar year 2022, there’s an opening to make a splash even if means that they can only make a game featuring the FIFA World Cup and Club World Cup.

That brings us to the FIFPRO license, which is probably the easiest and most accessible license evidenced by games with more modest budgets such as Football Manager being able to procure it. This license grants that all professional players in most of the top leagues across the world can be used with regards to likenesses. Further licenses, whether they be domestic leagues, continental competitions, or national teams would need to be negotiated — with some of them already bonded to EA through exclusive deals. 2K historically has always had strong edit modes and even online roster sharing capabilities dating back to College Hoops 2K8, so the ability to make up for any missing licenses could be possible should 2K allow it.

Besides the licenses, 2K would need the technical savvy, namely personnel and tech, to produce a game comparable to FIFA. Take-Two is a global company with over 5,000 employees, a few of which including the Global Social Media Manager Asim Tanvir, have experience with soccer games coming from Konami’s PES series. Given 2K’s stellar reputation, there’s no doubt they have the means and capability to produce a quality footy title.

How Soon Could We Expect A Soccer Game From 2K?

It’s still early days for any real soccer talk from 2K, and with FIFA having such a huge head start it’s unrealistic to expect a soccer game from 2K any time soon. Not only are there gameplay elements to address via an engine, there’s also copious amounts of art and online infrastructure to think about. Perhaps they could go the route Konami is with the Unreal Engine, which leverages a lot of pre-existing assets. After all, the development of an engine and all of its components (collision, AI, logic, etc.) is a daunting task.

It may be that 2K has already started working on this so they can hit the ground running, but the realist in me thinks that there is a lot of work to be done. If we’ve learned anything from eFootball, it’s that you cannot rush a product, especially one that’s your first venture into a new market.

Bottom Line

For years, the soccer market was dominated by two titans, EA and Konami — with Football Manager perfectly fine with its carved-out niche. As Konami’s eFootball 2022 stumbles, perhaps there’s room for a new player. 2K certainly carries a strong reputation given the success of the NBA 2K series, and with past series like MLB, NFL, NHL, and College Hoops all doing very well before falling out of existence for various of reasons ranging from exclusive deals to legal issues.

NBA 2K already put the nail in NBA Live‘s coffin, so it would come as no surprise that the folks over at EA are keeping an eye on any future 2K moves as it relates to the beautiful game. With that being said, it still doesn’t make sense for Take-Two to go after the FIFA Football Federation license considering the World Cup is an every four years event, for now. The Qatar 2022 World Cup is right around the corner, which makes any chance at 2K being up and running — should they purchase the license — out of reach.

Realistically speaking, it’s worth 2K peaking its head into EA’s soccer space, but it comes as a huge risk and even bigger financial burden. As much as I’d love to see a 2K soccer game, the realist in me doesn’t believe we’ll see one any time soon.

Do you think we’ll see a soccer game in 2K’s future?

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  1. Nice article
    Would love to see a new "major" player enter the market. Sadly I don't have high hopes and any I do have I don't get the feeling we'd be getting anything anytime soon unless they've managed to have one of the best kept secrets in gaming. Konami have already shown you can't just slap something together in 2 years. While I'd wager 2K would put more money and backing behind it, we'd be looking at 3 or 4 years out given the quality 2K would probably aim for.
    With that said on the hopes and dreams side of things:
    Even if initially they started with a focus on international football ie World Cup, Club World Cup maybe get the UEFA Nations League that would be a great start. If they want to get club comp involved I'm sure the MLS would ditch EA for what would probably be more attention from 2K. Then they could also go the route of adding in USL or NISA leagues from the US if they just were to focus on NA football. Honestly they could probably just give North and South America the focus of club games, hell do something with African leagues as well. EA main focus is Europe for good reason but other regions would love the attention.
    Also with the strong support they give the WNBA maybe they could give some love to the women's side of the game. Not only could you do the Women's World Cup but probably get UEFA Womens Champions League, FA WSL and NWSL going.The womens game is another huge area where EA and especially Konami have dropped the ball.
    It’s certainly intriguing (and EA needs solid competition to produce decent games), but I’d much rather see 2k get back into hockey and college hoops
    BoSox59
    It’s certainly intriguing (and EA needs solid competition to produce decent games), but I’d much rather see 2k get back into hockey and college hoops

    College Hoops 2K was so ahead of its time. No other sports video game has ever been as good as those games, in any sport. They had a legit coaching carousel. You could choose to start a career unemployed and had to apply for open jobs, and you could only get low level jobs. You would be fired for not meeting expectations. You could step down or apply for other jobs while still in one. You had to work your way up to a big program. Or build a program up from nothing. They also had the in depth player recruiting way before NCAA Football by EA as well. Also the way they included the media was good, it wasn't over the top, it was just short and sweet little things. Mini articles, mini tv spots. They had great dressing room coach team talks pre game and at half time. It was just such an amazing game. I'm still so annoyed that this franchise was canceled because of some greedy ******* suing EA over a "likeness" in their college game. **** O'bannon. Or what ever his name is. I hate that guy for killing college sports games. EA gets some blame too, because that player model did look kind of like him. But still. I almost get depressed thinking about how amazing a Choops game would be right now if they had been making them all along. I still play Choops 2K8.
    Zac
    College Hoops 2K was so ahead of its time. No other sports video game has ever been as good as those games, in any sport. They had a legit coaching carousel. You could choose to start a career unemployed and had to apply for open jobs, and you could only get low level jobs. You would be fired for not meeting expectations. You could step down or apply for other jobs while still in one. You had to work your way up to a big program. Or build a program up from nothing. They also had the in depth player recruiting way before NCAA Football by EA as well. Also the way they included the media was good, it wasn't over the top, it was just short and sweet little things. Mini articles, mini tv spots. They had great dressing room coach team talks pre game and at half time. It was just such an amazing game. I'm still so annoyed that this franchise was canceled because of some greedy ******* suing EA over a "likeness" in their college game. **** O'bannon. Or what ever his name is. I hate that guy for killing college sports games. EA gets some blame too, because that player model did look kind of like him. But still. I almost get depressed thinking about how amazing a Choops game would be right now if they had been making them all along. I still play Choops 2K8.

    Zac with the facts!
    For me, CH2K8 is by far the best sports game ever considering where it was at the time. In addition to what you mentioned Zac, there was the AAU circuit, overseas recruits, trophy room with detailed season overviews, weekly highlights, the selection show, ONLINE ROSTER SHARE. We can probably go on & on.
    Out of all the games that I'd like to see return, it's ahead of NCAA FB (which is how a lot of us including myself found OS) and a boxing game. My love for college hoops died a little when it was cancelled.
    Zac
    I'm still so annoyed that this franchise was canceled because of some greedy ******* suing EA over a "likeness" in their college game.

    The College Hoops Series was canceled due to low sales. It has nothing to do with the lawsuit. It was canceled well before the lawsuit was ever filed. The last game released in 2007 and the lawsuit popped up in 2009.
    I do agree with the rest of your points.
    mercalnd
    The College Hoops Series was canceled due to low sales. It has nothing to do with the lawsuit. It was canceled well before the lawsuit was ever filed. The last game released in 2007 and the lawsuit popped up in 2009.
    I do agree with the rest of your points.
    My memory may be wrong, but I remember the sequence being:
    1) 2K8 comes out.
    2) EA buys exclusive NCAA bball license
    3) EA releases 1 or 2 games
    4) EA stops making games
    5) lawsuit happens
    So neither company stopped due to lawsuit. 2k stopped because they lost license and EA stopped due to sales.
    Sent from my SM-G960U using Operation Sports mobile app
    studbucket
    My memory may be wrong, but I remember the sequence being:
    1) 2K8 comes out.
    2) EA buys exclusive NCAA bball license
    3) EA releases 1 or 2 games
    4) EA stops making games
    5) lawsuit happens
    So neither company stopped due to lawsuit. 2k stopped because they lost license and EA stopped due to sales.
    Sent from my SM-G960U using Operation Sports mobile app

    EA did not buy the exclusive before 2K stopped making games. They acquired it after in a sort "might as well lock it down since we have the market to ourselves right now" scenario.
    2K stopped for financial reasons, namely the CLC was asking too much for its license compared to what the game, as great as it was, was bringing in.

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