UFL open beta - will EA Sports FC finally have a worthy rival again?

UFL open beta - will EA Sports FC finally have a worthy rival again?
UFL™ Open Beta Announcement Trailer | June 7-9

An open beta for a brand new free-to-play football video game called UFL is running June 7-9 on PlayStation and Xbox where all players on these platforms will be able to try it out for the first time.

UFL has previously had closed betas, meaning a select few have been able to play it while it's still in development, and this is the first opportunity many will have had to try it out as development enters its final stages.

The open beta is basically the final test before it goes live to iron out any kinks it might have or fix anything developers might have missed.

The game prides itself on being an online football simulation, saying players don't have to pay to win and skill is what counts the most (cheeky digs at a certain EA Sports FC franchise it seems...).

In UFL, players build a club from the ground up and can recruit players based on the tactics they want to use, then playing against others from around the world while collecting unique club items.

While it doesn't appear there will be many (if any) official licenses, studio Strikerz Inc says there are thousands of real-life footballers to choose from.

The developers aren't messing around either - there's been more than $40m of investment that's gone into the game including an injection announced in December 2023 from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Is this the game that will finally give EA Sports FC a meaningful rival again?

UFL™ Official Gameplay Trailer | First

In short, and this is not a cop out answer as will be explained, time will tell.

EA Sports seems to have noticed its potential new competitor which might explain why FC 24's Euros update has gone live on June 6, a day before UFL's open beta.

Its football games haven't really had a big rival since Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer was at its peak in the mid-2000s.

The PES series has still been going since then, recently rebranding to eFootball in 2021, but it's not managed to stand up against the EA games arguably since PES 5 or PES 6 in terms of widespread popularity.

Who can forget that PES 5 artwork of John Terry and Thierry Henry facing off against each other or Adriano's ridiculous 99 shot power in PES 6?

A problem Konami seemed to face was the lack of licenses - EA dominated with this and while there were real players in PES, the series became infamous for featuring teams named Manchester Red and Merseyside Red for example.

UFL seems to have taken this on board and has removed the need for these licenses, creating a global league where players create their teams and basically play against each other online in one huge league it seems.

Making it free-to-play doesn't guarantee success in this market - Konami's eFootball is free but nowhere near as popular as FC.

But the appetite might just well be for a good football game to hit the market as EA Sports FC has been accused of being a bit stale over the past few years or so and focusing too heavily on Ultimate Team microtransactions, including when EA was still releasing games with the FIFA naming rights.

Speaking of which, new football games seem to be a bit like buses - while EA Sports FC will undoubtedly continue, along with UFL are rumours that developer 2K has scooped the FIFA rights to make its own football game called FIFA 2K25.

That's just rumour at the moment though, whereas the threat UFL poses to EA Sports' franchise is here and could be very real - if the open beta goes well and those early signs are promising.

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