EA Sports has responded to claims its FIFA team has been "copying" bitter rival PES, with football boss Matt Bilbey voicing sympathy for his accuser, Konami's Jon Murphy, suggesting the development team didn't "listen" to him.
Speaking to Eurogamer last week at EA Canada, Bilbey said he "didn't think that much" of the suggestion his team deliberately copied Konami's product, adding: "I hope the management team in Japan appreciate what [Jon Murphy has] been giving to that franchise for a long, long time. He's very, very committed and a great spokesman for the game.
"I feel for him sometimes, because I've worked with developers that it's challenging to listen to, or they don't necessarily listen to you."
In an explosive interview with this site last month, Murphy blasted the FIFA team for "a long history of copying PES to get where they want to be. We shouldn't forget that PES innovated all of this stuff and they did copy it".
He also railed against what he believes is a "lack of understanding about why we don't get licences", insisting Konami "can't fight against" a "massive company" like EA, which works with many of the top clubs and leagues exclusively.
This week EA settled a class action lawsuit against its Madden series to the tune of $27m, to be refunded to customers, which had claimed its NFL rights amounted to an illegal monopoly. EA is now banned from signing a further NCAA deal for five years.
Privately, Konami's comments raised eyebrows within EA, with representatives pointing out off the record that the time it took features to be developed and implemented made a mockery of the claims of plagiarism. Bilbey, however, admitted the rivalry between the two series had been of huge benefit to EA.
"We were fortunate to have Konami as a competitor, because it motivates you - you can't win unless there's someone to beat," he said.
FIFA 13 producer Nick Channon refused to comment directly on Murphy's remarks, stating: "We're not going to stand here and say anything. We're very respectful of PES and we understand we have a very strong competitor. We know they want to make a better game every year and ultimately that drives us forward."
This was a sentiment echoed by EA Sports boss Andrew Wilson, who told Eurogamer: "I had the great fortune of leading the [FIFA] team as we went head-to-head with Konami. I had the greatest amount of respect for them then; I thought they built a tremendous game. I continue to have the greatest amount of respect for them today."
You can read our thoughts on the latest instalment of FIFA elsewhere on the site today.