EA Sports, one of the world’s largest sporting video game producers, released FIFA World Cup 2014 in April of this year, well in anticipation of the tournament and its climactic final. Sales in the newest virtual soccer game have risen each week of the tournament, and this week, the week before the final game, has seen a spike in sales as fans try to work out their own favored outcomes for the Germany vs. Argentina match on Sunday. The video game will also run a simulation which will attempt to predict the outcome of the FIFA World Cup final and present it online, as it has for many sporting outcomes like the Superbowl or the Stanley Cup Final.
EA Sports estimates that soccer games, and particularly the FIFA series, accounts for about 25 percent of its sales annually worldwide, about $1 billion. As 2014 is a World Cup year, EA expects that number to quadruple, with 1.8 million copies of FIFA World Cup 2014 sold in the U.S. since April alone.
The video game follows features an interactive match bracket, including the entire run up to the World Cup as well as the tournament itself, starting with all 203 teams who played in the qualifiers in 2013. The video game not only allows players to match up their teams as FIFA has in the real World Cup and predict the outcome of the final, but also to create draws and fantasy leagues to form different matches, and then play out the various combinations they have created.
EA Sports staged simulations via ESPN of the semifinal matches between Germany and Brazil on Monday and the Netherlands and Argentina on Monday, using conditions and statistics which matched those in the real life match. Brazilian forward Neymar was out on his catastrophic back injury, and Thiago Silva was suspended. Like the real semifinals, Germany won the simulated match, making it a somewhat accurate prediction. However, it was not nearly the runaway victory in the simulation that it was in Rio on Tuesday, which would have been difficult to predict. Likewise, the outcome of the simulation for the Netherlands/Argentina semifinal was accurate in that it predicted Argentina as the winner, but actual goals scored under the conditions set up were a little off at 2-1. The game was not quite as accurate in some of its other predictions before the tournament was underway, stating, for example, that Spain would end up in third place, where fans now know that the 2010 champs left in the knockout rounds.
ESPN and EA Sports have already run the simulation in anticipation of the third place game between Brazil and the Netherlands on Saturday, and it predicted that the Netherlands will take third. For the final, EA sports predictor has said that Germany will be the ultimate winner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with an outcome of 2-1 in extra time, though the simulations will not be posted until Saturday and Sunday respectively. The simulator also predicted that the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball awards will go to the injured Neymar da Silva Santos, Jr.
For those soccer fans who are suffering from between-match malaise, EA Sports’ FIFA World Cup 2014 video game affords them many more hours of action and the ability to make their own predictions for the outcome of final. For those who are not happy with the results of the matches so far, the game also allows more favorable scenarios, and for those who are angry with what happens in the Argentina/Germany final, fans can replay the game to suit their hopes for their team’s victory and the 2014 FIFA World Cup title.
By Layla Klamt