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Football genre will continue to expand, says EA

FIFA 08 producer Joe Booth has told <i>GamesIndustry.biz</i> that he relishes the challenge of facing off against Pro Evo in a market which is able to support more football titles than ever.

FIFA 08 producer Joe Booth has told GamesIndustry.biz that he relishes the challenge of facing off against Pro Evo in a market which is able to support more football titles than ever.

"There seems to be more and more appetite for football games," Booth told GamesIndustry.biz.

"People treat football games a bit like they treat first-person shooters - they don't just buy one game, they buy two or three games through the year anyway."

Last year's FIFA was the UK's best-selling game during 2006, but it was a tough fight against Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer. Booth said the focus isn't simply on beating the competition, explaining, "I think that's something we ask ourselves - not how do we beat Konami, but how do we move the genre forward, and what opportunities are there.

"We have to assume that Konami are going to come out and be very strong. If we only assume they're on their current trend, then we'd be complacent. As gamers, we want that as well. We like the competition."

That strategy led Booth - who worked on last year's PS2 and PC versions of FIFA - to push for a greater dialogue between developers and their customers. As a result, he said, moves have been made to alter the way EA behaves globally.

"What we've been doing is trying to change the organisation - the whole of EA - to this year-long relationship with the gamer, which is quite hard, because the business is optimised for annual launches of games," Booth observed.

"In each territory they've got different divisions - guys who deal with community, guys who deal with PR, guys who deal with the marketing - and they do three or four games and they just align on FIFA for that two-month window. So it's quite challenging to change that and build this relationship with the user."

It's a philosophy that will certainly be reflected in the online elements that EA introduces for this year's next-generation redux, FIFA 08, which is due out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September/October.

"When we do announce what we're doing, it's not just going to be about features," Booth confirmed. "It's going to be about lots of other stuff as well."

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Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.