FIFA is one of the crown jewels of EA's glittering software crown, with a 20 year legacy and each yearly iteration eagerly awaited by the fans, but for a while, it very nearly didn't happen.
That's the story told in a recent feature written by Simon Parkin for the Guardian. In the feature, Parkin examines how the football franchise was nearly stopped by American EA executives, who thought that football was too complicated a sport, and by the fact that interest in football –– the real, english, kind –– was underwhelming throughout the 90's.
"I mean this respectfully, but the reason Fifa is so successful is that the game was developed and published a long way from head office." said Tom Stone, a former Electronic Arts executive, speaking about the origins of the Fifa series.
The title was originally suggested after the success of John Madden Football, which itself evolved into the Madden franchise. According to another former EA executive, Mark Lewis: "Almost the entire US organisation was opposed to our idea,” Lewis said. “They felt that soccer was too complicated a sport.”
There are more insights in the Guardian piece, but it's interesting to see the premier league football title very nearly didn't come to pass.