No, at this stage of the game, it is all about the PES community. It’s a corner stone to building sales, and it works. PES has become a permanent fixture in the charts all year round, and we can attribute much of this to the way we work with our committed fan base.
Of course, we’d be daft to think that it is nothing to do with the quality of the game. Name one other game that makes people as competitive as PES? We are constantly hearing of office lunch times dominated by matches, and sessions spilling into the afternoon. No disc stays in the console as long. You only have to visit the offices of any magazine and if they have a console, they have PES. Six months after it launched, why are they still taking it all so seriously?
Competitiveness. And that’s why the PES community is so important. PES brings out the best and worst elements of our base desire to win. The sheer joy of seeing a well-worked move result in a goal, and the visible deflation of an opponent as you celebrate is a wonderful feeling. And all the gloating and taunting that comes with the territory is just a bonus. But our job from after Christmas until September is to encourage such competitiveness.
Our belief in and support for the series has grown massively in my nine years here, but we know there are bigger kids on the block. PES continues to grow and expand in a large part thanks to the dedication of its fans. And we talk to them. We meet them, and we listen to them. They tell us what they like and dislike, we feed it all back to Seabass. It’s an on-going focus group that rewards everyone, and this community has followed a natural progression with the creation of PES Rankings.
Imagine a league table that truly showed who was the ‘Daddy’ at PES. A simple one-stop shop where groups of users could easily create individual league tables where every lunchtime game is recorded, and where statistics can be used to back up bragging rights. This is what PES Rankings does. It collates the enthusiasm of PES players and gives them a forum where they can exchange tips, meet new challengers – and try and whup them all. And with online play now vital to the success of a new title, it is going to grow and grow.
And it spills out from online, too. We hold regular championships designed to play on this base instinct of winning. We host ‘North Versus South’ competitions, and open door competitions in large retail chains such as HMV. And people come from miles to play, and to meet the people they message via PES Rankings. Yes, there are prizes and the best players are flown off to represent the UK in pan-European finals, but there is more to it than that. While there is always an underlying competitive streak, entrants will still cheer their mates who make the finals – ensuring that the realism of PES is carried through to its supporters.
We have big plans for PES Rankings, and it is inextricably tied to the success of the PES series. As we near a new era for PES with the advent of the seventh game and another new format to enjoy in PS3, all eyes are on Konami to see what we can do with the potential of the 360 and Sony’s new machine. It’s going to be an exciting time, and what better way to enjoy that buzz than with friends? Thousands of them…