Manchester United FC has the biggest fan following in the world, unofficially accounting to about 668 million people. That is one monster number and roughly twice of their 2009 estimate of 333 million fans. Apart from being smart investors and shrewd owners, the Glazers have also made sure that the club gets the massive marketing required to keep the mojo alive. Many other teams have also followed a similar model but the results are not even close to United’s, they have been successful as well, just not in the same scale. There are so many factors contributing to their success and one of them is the video games, these games which sell in millions hold a key role in developing a casual football video gamer into a football fanatic, and a fan will spend money on tickets, merchandise and events just to catch a glimpse of his/her favourite football player/team, and make many companies rich in the process. The quantity in which jerseys, signed footballs, studs etc sell is just mind boggling.
FIFA and PES have created such a huge sports games market that almost every person having a smartphone, PC or console is purchasing these games. FIFA 13 had sold over 12 million copies by the end of 2012, it had the biggest game launch ever in terms of sales in 4 weeks surpassing many other big names; PES 2013 also did good business, but nowhere close to FIFA 13. People buying the game is just Step 1, but the effect the game is having on them is the main deal for the real teams and their owners. FIFA would be a better example as it has more licences and covers a larger market, and PES essentially has the same effect.
FIFA covers approximately 40% of the professional football teams in the world and almost all of Europe, a person sitting in Saudi Arabia can play his local favourite Al-Hilal against his global favourite FC Barcelona. At the same time a North Korean person who has no idea about football but has purchased the game, can play with the most heard name around, say Real Madrid, and get to learn about the team and players etc by just playing it regularly and searching the rest for further info on Google. In a couple of weeks time Real Madrid will have (x)+1 supporters. This person will talk about Kaka, Di Maria and also Messi, he will praise Falcao and will watch all of Real’s matches on TV, will also probably buy a team shirt or two for himself. Suddenly the world will have a new Football Pundit speaking on all the high profile issues and matches; this person is practically a football noob and still can’t kick the ball 20 yards in real life. The role FIFA has played in developing this serious idiot is commendable.
This is just one category of fans FIFA manages to create, the other similar category is the friends of these fans. The noob follower will speak about his new found love and will persuade others like him or from his group to play the game, based on their varied interest and level of understanding they will also pick a team and their favourite player, buy merchandise, watch live matches, and will finally compete with each other, hence growing the multiplayer mode. Now from this particular group of football nothings, the world will suddenly have a clan of knowledgeable FIFA players, each supporting a team and having his or her own POV (Point of View). They will practically compete with a life-long fan of a particular team in terms of information and knowledge. Whatever the level of understanding and playing, FIFA and PES have managed to give many teams a lot of fans and supporters (mainly top 4 teams from top leagues of England, Spain, Italy and Germany), and have also acquainted these fans with many other teams and their players.
Then obviously there is us, the main group, the people having pledged life-long support to a club since our very childhood, the fans who go crazy and bash things up when their team loses a big game, the supporter who stays awake at 3 AM in his country so that he can see Chelsea win the Champions League, the fan who regularly goes to pubs and bars to enjoy a big game with beer and mock the losing fans the real football way. And on being introduced to a game like FIFA and PES, we have enjoyed doing our transfers and other shit on it and played it for hours just for plain fun. We already know who the players are, what the team does and what the transfer market is all about. We enjoy multiplayer because we love whopping a fragile noob, we enjoy the trick section because we love what Christiano Ronaldo can do in real life. And then we make others follow football the true way through FIFA, PES and many other sources and create more loyal and true supporters.
This way or that way, the total number of people following football is constantly increasing and with the amount of money being poured into the sport, the trend will continue to rise. Be it any kind of a follower, FIFA and PES are partially responsible for a large fan-base of any team, and indirectly the success of many franchises involved in the loop. A true gamer may not be a true supporter, but is a supporter, and when you multiply it by millions you get figures like Manchester United.