Dating back to the mid-1990s, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer franchise has been a perennial favorite of football (soccer) fans around the world and each new installment looks to raise the bar for authenticity while rewarding its increasingly growing (and skilled) fanbase.
Several years ago, Konami knew it wanted to bring the series to as many players as possible while providing established fans the opportunity to take the action with them on the go. Aspirations aside, the advent of a mobile PES title that could grow from year to year also meant that the development team needed to tackle some technical challenges and assess available engine options.
“We had been using a third-party game engine, then one day we learned support for that engine was ending,” said Manager Kazuki Araki. “So at that point, we started evaluating several engines and eventually we settled on UE4. We release new versions of Pro Evolution Soccer every year. Each version reflects the current soccer scene and adds new features. We knew that Epic was constantly challenging itself by releasing new versions of Unreal Engine often and introducing new technology, including compatibility with new platforms. We thought that UE4 was a good match for our policies and our core values. In addition, there is a great deal of documentation available for UE4, and there are many developers worldwide who are skilled in it. Also, with UE4, artists can iterate without needing engineers’ help, so turnaround time is very fast. After considering these and many other factors, we decided to go with UE4.”
“The goal for the mobile version was to provide the same user experience in terms of gameplay as the console version. Given that goal, what we had to do was to make sure the mobile game ran the same way as the original console version using UE4,” said Director Hideki Yanagihara. “Of course, the biggest difference is with the game controls. On the console version, you play with the controller and on the mobile version, you use touch control. We expect that more players, and especially more new players, will be introduced to this franchise through the mobile version. So we put a lot of effort into making the game controls very intuitive and very easy to understand, so we could have an easy and accessible UI.”
Image courtesy of Konami
“Of course, it was a big challenge, but we believed we could show our existing players how Konami is serious about the mobile version. And, as a result, we believed we could bring the same quality of the console version to mobile, which was a big hit with soccer fans,” said Assistant Producer Yosuke Abe.
Naturally, one of the biggest differentiating factors in the console and mobile versions is the controls, an area where the development team wanted to provide authenticity for veterans while also welcoming newcomers.
“For novice users who are new to Pro Evolution Soccer or new to the mobile version, the big problem was that the controls might be too complicated for mobile users,” said Abe. “In order to solve this problem and address the needs of novice users, we decided to implement two types of controls in the mobile version.”
Image courtesy of Konami
“The first type, which we call the classic version or classic control, provides a virtual pad on mobile devices. This on-screen virtual pad allows players with console experience or experience with other mobile soccer games, to easily get started and learn to play Pro Evolution Soccer on mobile. The second type, which we call the advanced version or advanced control, was newly developed for Pro Evolution Soccer mobile. In this mode, no buttons are shown on the screen at all, and you play only by using swipes and taps with your hands, letting you basically do whatever you want.”
“We think this advanced mode is very intuitive and easy to understand. It makes the game very accessible to players who are new to soccer games on mobile and allows them to enjoy the game from the get-go. As I mentioned, for newcomers and inexperienced players, we tried to provide the best controls that are very intuitive. And for experienced players of Pro Evolution Soccer, we tried to provide the same quality of fun PVP. With these two approaches, I think we've appealed to both newcomers and experienced players.”
Image courtesy of Konami
For the team behind the mobile version of the game, it was essential to not only maintain the core gameplay experience but to sustain the game’s high-quality visuals when converting from console to mobile. “We received lots of positive feedback from our fans on the console version of Pro Evolution Soccer. So, for the mobile version, we tried to achieve the same graphic quality,” said Manager Toru Nagai. “What we are most proud of actually is the lighting. We were able to create a very realistic look. In reality, there might be cases where the presence of shadows would make players hard to see, making it hard to play the game. We were able to avoid those situations. We believe we have created a game that looks real and is easy to play. We would like to continue using more features offered by UE4 and keep improving our game.”
In addition to its mobile title, Konami will also be utilizing Unreal Engine for its next-gen installment of the franchise.
Learn more about the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise on Konami’s official website.
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