Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is a wonderfully fun football game to play.
Since the demo was released on August 24th, I have played roughly 10 games against CPU opposition on the second highest difficulty level, and what I have found is a single player football experience better than anything else on the market.
FIFA is still the daddy when it comes to football titles, and I'm still playing FIFA 16, but it is plain to see that games vs the CPU in FIFA are absolutely crap. Dull, lifeless, and frustratingly stupid as the CPU is either piss easy to beat or Morecambe will pass you off the pitch like Barcelona.. There's absolutely no reason to keep playing.
PES isn't like that. Playing against the computer (something most gaming companies now appear to think nobody does anymore) is actually fun. The Master League is still in there, and when your friends aren't around for a few games and you don't fancy facing a full Team Of The Season squad in FIFA Ultimate Team, there is nothing that can match the single player experience that Konami offer.
So if it's a better game, then why does FIFA outsell it every year?
Well, for one part, FIFA is still very fun when played vs a human opponent. Also, the online modes are a lot more diverse and polished than in the modern Pro Evo games, but ultimately... It boils down to the licences again.
Yes, it's superficial, and no, it shouldn't be important, but I'm sorry, it's the year 2016 and Cristiano Ronaldo is playing for 'MD White'.
That's actually what Real Madrid are called in PES 2017.
I've played PES a lot more in the last two years than the 'dark ages' that came before 2015, and 2016, and while they were both flawed games they felt a lot more fun to play than anything FIFA has offered in single player since FIFA 06.
PES 2017 is another big step forward in terms of gameplay, but it simply will not sell games when the two biggest leagues in the world look like this:
East Dorsetshire - Bournemouth
Lancashire Claret - Burnley
London FC - Chelsea
South Norwood - Crystal Palace
Merseyside Blue - Everton
Yorkshire Orange - Hull City
East Midlands - Leicester City
Man Blue - Manchester City
Man Red - Manchester United
Teeside - Middlesbrough
Hampshire Red- Southampton
ST Red - Stoke
Wearside - Sunderland
West Glamorgan City - Swansea
North East London - Tottenham
Hertfordshire - Watford
West Midlands Stripes - West Brom
East London- West Ham
PV Sky Blue - Deportivo Alaves
PV White Red - Athletic de Bilbao
Club Atletico De Madrid
GA Cyan - Celta de Vigo
GA Blue White - Deportivo de La Coruna
PV Blue Red - Eibar
CT Blue White - Espanyol
AN Red White - Granada
CN Yellow Blue - Las Palmas
MD Blue White - Leganes
AN Cyan White - Malaga
NC Red - Osasuna
AN Green White - Real Betis
MD White - Real Madrid
PV Blue White - Real Sociedad
AN White Red - Sevilla
AS Red White - Sporting de Gijon
ED White Orange - Valencia
ED Yellow - Villarreal
It must be so frustrating for Konami.
We know that on PS4 you can simply download an option file and pop it in to sort out these problems about a week after the game is released, but you cannot do that on Xbox One, and the changes do not include online play, so for the majority of players, the option file isn't a real fix.
It seems crazy that we are still having this discussion in 2016, as these are issues that hurt PES back in the day, but you could look past it then because the graphics and presentation in other games were not that much better, and the gameplay was unmatched.
That is no longer the case, and while the gameplay continues to get better and better every year, the inability to pry EA Sports' claws away from a monopoly on the biggest league in Europe, they will struggle to catch up.