Success has many Fathers, and a success as vast as the Videogame FIFA has more than most. In many ways the claim has little meaning as hundreds, probably thousands of people have worked on FIFA over the years and every one of them has had a part in its success.
Of course those who know me know I can’t even program my mobile phone, so I make no serious claim to fatherhood myself. However not many can claim to have actually been in the room when FIFA was born, only two in fact, and I am one of them.
In the early 90’s EA’s commercial business was run by David Knox, Sales Director and all round good egg. Ably, if somewhat erratically, assisted by myself on the UK and Console across Europe… we lived to multitask! For years we had been in an internecine war with our US brothers to get a football game for Europe. There was a plethora in those days. Kick Off from the boys down in Gravesend and Sensible Soccer, which we all called Sensi (because we were brain dead) come to mind. Anyway for some reason it was the relatively less well-known Microprose Soccer that really got our goat. I guess it was because they were an American company like us, AND they focused on platforms similar to us such as the ST and Amiga. Whatever it burned!
In the ongoing conversation that was EA, we kept poking our heads above the parapet and lobbing the odd Football request over the pond. Normally the response was some version of “You got Jaan Madden, you guys need to get on that”. Irritatingly Jaan Madden sold very well in the UK back then, so we were stumped. We would huddle in a crappy little office by the kitchenette and mutter dark oaths. In my mind the room was a cupboard under the stairs, but I think I’m just getting mixed up with Harry Potter.
Anyway there we were, muttering to each other under the stairs when salvation arrived! A little note asking for a forecast for a football game not made by us, but by a development team who wanted a publisher! This was it, we knew how EA worked… so we forecast BIG!
Whoa! That got everyone’s attention, Knoxxie was dragged into meetings, and I was dragged in after him. All manner of excitement was occurring! THEN we lost the deal! I think Sega won it and it became Ultimate Soccer, I don’t remember that well… FIFA squished it eventually anyway.
Whatever, we hid back under the stairs and waited, and waited, and waited! Finally the call we were expecting came! “Ahem! If we did a Soccer game ourselves would you forecast that many again?”
And lo… it was done!