There is no denying the popularity of the FIFA series of football video games among football fans. The last edition, FIFA 20, saw over 10 million people buying and playing it across various consoles and platforms, and anticipation is high for FIFA 21. The next iteration of the hit game is set to launch on 9th October, and this time there could be an additional treat for Indian fans, with the Indian Super League (ISL) likely to be included as a playable league in the game for the first time.
The mobile version of the FIFA 20 game had seen the ISL included, with rumours stating that Electronic Arts would go ahead and put it in the main game if it proved to be a popular pick with players. Further, a Twitter poll by Fifplay, an influential FIFA community, saw the ISL top the list as the league most fans want to be included in the next version of the game. India has recently been seeing a huge spike in demand for online games, as more and more people go online, as well as during lockdown when online sources of entertainment, such as Indian online casino games, have become quite popular. Thus, it is no surprise to see that the ISL is becoming one of the biggest demands from the Indian FIFA community.
The Indian Super League garnered 13% of the overall vote on this poll, marginally ahead of the Finnish league which was in second place. More than 1.8 million votes were registered, which makes it a significant number of people who want these leagues included in the game. At present, there are only three Asian leagues in the game – the Chinese Super League, the Saudi MBS Pro League and the Japanese J1 league, and including the ISL would be a smart move from EA to increase the popularity of the game even further on the Asian continent. It is not the only Asian league vying for inclusion, with fans from the UAE, Indonesia and Malaysia also asking for their countries’ respective leagues to be put into the game. In fact, there are other such demands as well, with Greek fans also demanding that the entire league be included in FIFA 21, since only four Greek clubs – Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, PAOK and AEK Athens, are in the game at the moment, under the ‘Rest of the World’ section.
There are rumours of other leagues which could be included as well. EA could look to capitalize on the popularity of the sport in the UK by adding the Welsh league, while the English Conference could also make an appearance, despite being the fifth tier league in the country, as the top four divisions are already present in the game and have been so for a long time. At the same time, there are also rumours that only the Indian teams which have qualified for AFC competitions next season i.e FC Goa, ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC, could be a part of FIFA 21, rather than the whole league.
While EA has already begun accepting pre-orders for the game, details of the game are still being drip-fed and teased to fans. If the ISL was included, it would certainly boost sales of the game in India, where there is a significant fan base already which buys the game every year. This move could bring in new users and increase FIFA’s dominance in the football video game category, but it remains to be seen if EA has bitten the bullet and Indian fans will get to see and play as their local heroes in the latest iteration of this superhit game.