By Quentin H. / July 1st, 2019
eFootball PES 2020 is the latest entry in the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise by KONAMI that comes with a focus (as the name suggests) on the eSports aspect of the series. This new entry comes with a revamped Master League, the new Matchday mode, upgraded gameplay mechanics, and scanned player images to allow gamers to see their favorite licensed teams in full form on the field.
During E3 2019, I caught up with Lennart Bobzien, the European PES brand manager. During our time together, we talked about the return of Second Divisions for Italy/Spain, new features for this upcoming entry, and more.
You can also check out my E3 2019 hands-on impressions for eFootball PES 2020 here. If you’re interested in checking out a demo, it goes live on July 30th. eFootball PES 2020 releases worldwide on September 10, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (Steam).
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Operation Rainfall: My name is Quentin Humphrey with Operation Rainfall, and are you?
LB: My name is Lennart Bobzien, and I am the European PES Brand Manager.
OR: So what is eFootball PES 2020?
LB: eFootball PES 2020 is a repositioning of our previously known Pro Evolution Soccer series. So this year, we decided to do our repositioning to underline our focus on eSports moving forward. eSports have already been a big part of our series, and moving forward, it will become more the focus.
OR: We’re going to talk about this in a moment, but let’s dive right in this first: Second Divisions for Italy and Spain have returned! What led to them finally coming back? Because they were left out in the 2019 edition.
LB: Yes. Last year, we made the decision- we had to remove them from the game. Immediately, we saw the negativity and the backlash from our community. So therefore, we just recognized that that was a huge mistake. And therefore, we decided that we will bring them back as mentioned yesterday.
“We have always been in touch with Messi in the past, even when we didn’t have him on the cover.“
OR: This year, the Master League is being revamped. How are you revamping it? What changing are coming, and why are they coming?
LB: With Master League, we are in the second year of a three-year plan. And this year, we’ve included new features such as realistic transfer system, which means that we’re working with our data collection team, which is providing us with the real data and the transfers from the real world of football. Just to make it as realistic as possible. We’ve also included interactive cutscenes, which means that you can make your own choices in certain situations, and create your very own bespoke Master League story. And what’s very cool is that now with the new Master League, we’ve introduced legendary players as managers. So now you can sign up [Diego] Maradona, [Johan] Cryuff, or Zico, for example, for your team as a manager. More [managers] will be announced soon.
OR: You mentioned a moment ago that there’s new dialogue trees to eFootball PES 2020. Where did this concept come from, and how does it actually influence gameplay?
LB: First of all, Master League has been part of the series since the beginning. We just want to include more engagement for our users, more options [in order] to have an interactive way to play. And therefore, we just thought that it’s the best opportunity when you’re the manager, when you have discussions with one of your players, that to add this really nice touch to it- to have this direct influence on the story. And so we have decided to include it into the game.
OR: So what I say at a press conference, will that affect the players’ playing form?
LB: So, obviously, the press conference is something where you will interact with the press itself. And obviously, there will be press conferences before the game, but also after the game. And this will obviously have an impact on how media will receive you and how you will interact with those people. And obviously, it will have an impact on your progress later on in the mode.
OR: You have a new mode: Matchday.
LB: Matchday is a really interesting concept. It is a mode that reflects and embraces all the big matches in the real world of football. And it’s aligned very closely with the Matchday calendar from real football. So this means, for example, that we want to highlight, we want to include all the big games and rivalries, from the real world. We want to have them featured in the game. And then at the beginning of each week, you select a side from one of those two teams that will be highlighted.
You select the side, and then you play as that team. And you get points for performing outstandingly. For example, winning games, dribbling, goals. You will get points, you will add points to your team’s side. At the same time, there are thousands of other players playing for your side and for the opposition. So therefore, all the points are getting put together. And at the end of each week, you have the overall score. And then two representatives from each side will be picked, and those two will face each other online for the big finale. The fans can tune in through a livestream, [and] cheer and support them. And then in the end, there will be rewards for the ultimate winner.
So it’s a very engaging community-included mode.
OR: Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona has returned to the cover for the first time since 2011. How did you go about bringing him back?
LB: We have always been in touch with Messi in the past, even when we didn’t have him on the cover. And we’ve always looked for opportunities and ways- there’s some interest on both sides. And with the partnership with Barcelona, the one we just renewed to be [their] global partner, it made perfect sense to wrap this partnership up with having probably the best player in the world right now on the cover. And when we started the discussions with him last year, it was clear that it worked from both sides. Therefore, we managed to get him back on board.
OR: Not only that, but you’re working with ex-Barcelona captain Andrés Iniesta to improve gameplay. How that did that partnership develop, and what suggestions did he bring that were implemented into eFootball PES 2020?
LB: Iniesta is obviously an ex-Barcelona legend. Since he is now playing in Tokyo, it was perfect for our team in Japan who literally lives around the corner. When we approached him and asked, he said he would be interested in becoming an advisor for our team. He was absolutely up for it. And what he’s bringing to the game is, first of all, his wisdom, his experience, and his years played at the highest levels of football. And he sat down with the development team from different departments- from the gameplay department, from the ball department, from the animations department, and he looked at all those different aspects and gave tips [on] how to improve those areas. Whether the ball is behaving correctly, whether a rebound is coming up, whether the player is dribbling in the right way [and] right pace.
The pace is also is something where he had a huge impact on, to reflect the real football in game as much as possible.
“So overall, our full product is for every single audience. For the casual audience. For the hardcore audience.”
OR: How long has eFootball PES 2020 been in development for?
LB: In development, the exact years I can’t tell you, but its definitely more than a year.
OR: Building on that- the UEFA Championship license deal ended in 2018, and y’all lost the rights to Borussia, Dortmund, [etc]. With this game still in development, you managed to put on a fairly well critically-received title. And 2020, from my hands on, should be received pretty well as well. How did you manage to pull it off, even losing these teams and licenses?
LB: In the end, when it comes to football products or licensing products, you have on one side the game itself. You have the game- just the pure game, the naked game, without any licenses. And in that way, that case, the game’s already brilliant. It’s an amazing football game. It’s realistic. It’s enjoyable. And on the other side, you have the licensing part. And with both mixed together, you can have the perfect, perfect football experience.
Obviously, with not renewing the UEFA Champions League or not having Dortmund in the game anymore, it wasn’t helpful. But on the other side, the game is still amazing. It’s an amazing product. And this year, in terms of licenses, you can definitely look forward to the next couple of months- July, August- since around those two months we will talk more about new licenses.
OR: I have to ask- Argentina, Belgum, Scotland, and more. Are there any new leagues or clubs that you are bringing that you can announce now?
LB: The short answer is ‘yes, but I cannot tell.’ But we have big announcements. When we meet at E3 next year, I hope, you will say ‘You’re right. You had big announcements.’
OR: Back to the gameplay- what are some new first touch techniques that are coming to eFootball PES 2020?
LB: One is the Trip Trap, which lets you do a feint to one side, and then go to the other side and actually beat the defender. And we have the so-called ‘no touch’ controller, which is where the ball is incoming, you can run next to the ball without touching it. This is a nice little feature and element of how to treat the ball when its incoming.
“But if you look at the past, we always have regular content updates and that’s definitely part of the series.“
OR: So you can’t tell me anything about new leagues or clubs, but can you tell me about new commentators for this year?
LB: We will talk more about commentators in August, but what I’ve seen so far, there are no big updates in terms that commentators will change. We are obviously working on improving our commentator system, adding in new phrases, adding in cutscenes, but the people- the commentators themselves- most of them will be the same.
OR: So 2019’s was called Pro Evolution Soccer 2019, and now this year’s is called eFootball PES 2020. Why the turn to eSports?
LB: To be fair, if you look at the series, we have been doing eSports for years, [but] on a smaller scale. As when you look back at the last three, four years- we’ve grown our eSports. We have the PES League. We work with our partners- Aresenal, Liverpool. We’ve hosted events at their stadiums. Last year, we started our initiative eFootball Pro, where you have teams such as Barcelona, Celtic, Monaco competing with each other.
If you look at our setup now, we are already there with eSports. We just wanted to grow more in the future and have more local competitions with the local leagues. We just finished in Russia with the Cyber League, which was an amazing success. And that’s just something we want to grow over the next years.
OR: This is one of the two big football franchises. How do you work to distinguish yourselves from FIFA?
LB: For us, it is clearly the gameplay. There is a massive difference between our product and our competitor’s product. The visuals- We’ve done loads of 3-D scans with lots of players. So the player likenesses in the game is just incredible. And then, to round it up, we have a very compelling eSports project. You have the professional one and the casual tournaments. So overall, our full product is for every single audience. For the casual audience. For the hardcore audience. And that’s how we wanted to distinguish ourselves from our competitor.
OR: What platforms will eFootball PES 2020 be out for?
LB: On PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC Steam.
OR: Will there be Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro enhancements?
LB: The game will definitely look better on the enhanced consoles, that’s for sure.
OR: What’s the release date?
LB: The tenth of September, globally, which is a Tuesday.
OR: Now DLC. Will there be any DLC plans for eFootball PES 2020?
LB: Oh, definitely. That’s something that’s always been part of the series. We will release data packs post-launch. We will have regular updates coming to the game, including boots, player faces, kits, stadiums, eventually leagues- but I won’t want to talk about that yet.
But if you look at the past, we always have regular content updates and that’s definitely part of the series.
And what’s very important to us is that it’s up to date. So when you have kits being released, boots being releases, left goal keeper gloves being released, you want to have that in the game.
Obviously, we’re still working on signing additional partnerships with clubs, which also comes along with new stadiums. So therefore, stadiums, kits, additional content will come post-launch.
OR: To someone who hasn’t heard of or seen eFootball PES 2020 until this year’s E3, or have only played FIFA before, what do you have to say to them?
LB: Stay tuned for the demo, which will be released very soon. We will reveal more information [at the] end of June when we will be at the World Finals. This demo will definitely show you how beautiful our product is, and if you love football, you will definitely love PES. We want to get our game into as many people’s hands as possible, so that they can convince ourselves [of that].
It’s easy to say ‘yeah, you should play PES, so you should play FIFA for that.’ At the end, its your decision. You need to play the product to see how good our game is.
eFootball PES 2020 releases worldwide on September 10, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (Steam).
What new features are you excited for in eFootball PES 2020? Are you excited to partake in the new Matchday mode?
Let us know in the comments below!
2020E3E3 2019eFootbal PESeFootballfootballKonamipespro evolution soccer