Electronic Arts is preparing to steal a march on Konami by releasing FIFA Football 2005 on October 8th on PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC, GBA and N-Gage, the publisher has confirmed, a week before rival Pro Evolution Soccer 4 launches on PS2.
PC and Live-enabled Xbox versions of PES4 are due out in Europe in November (date TBC), but the PS2 version does not support the PS2 Online service, which may give a further edge to EA's title, which will go online on both PS2 and Xbox.
EA also has its close alliance with FIFA to help boost sales; the publisher has organised an Xbox World Cup tournament to run over the next few months, culminating in a live final at a FIFA dinner event in front of footballing professionals in Zurich.
Konami, meanwhile, now seems destined to suffer a similar fate to the one it usually endures - solid sales and widespread critical acclaim, while the FIFA series quickly dwarfs its achievements at the tills. In fact, historically the FIFA series has done this despite appearing after Konami's efforts.
Perhaps word of mouth will sustain PES4 further than usual - that and the presence of Thierry Henry, Francesco Totti and Pierluigi Collina on the box, versus EA's line-up of Patrick Vieira, Fernando Morientes and Andriy Shevchenko - but it seems inevitable now that FIFA will dominate once again.
We should have reviews of both FIFA Football 2005 and Pro Evolution Soccer 4 within the next fortnight.