At approximately 11:30 AM EST this past Wednesday, the sport of soccer was, for one moment, the biggest in the entire United States. Landon Donovan, star striker for the US national team, stunned the entire sports world with a miracle goal as his team was mere minutes from elimination, as the US defeated Algeria 1-0 and moved onto the tournament round.
Needless to say, the goal has propelled the sport into the limelight, and has put tons of emphasis on future video games, including EA’s FIFA 11. And while traditionally the series has performed the best in Europe, EA Sports’ Matt Bilbey figures that, just like in the World Cup, this could be the year the US finally wins it all.
In an interview with Kotaku, Bilbey states that newfound interest in the World Cup, brought on by US success, could rekindle North American interest in the sport of soccer, and thus, sell more games.
“The U.S. market was our No. 4, in the world, four years ago,” Bilbey said to Kotaku. “This year it will be our No. 1 market.”
And why not? This year’s Olympic hockey tournament, capped off by a dramatic battle between the United States and Canada, reignited American interest in the sport, leading to high ratings for this year’s Stanley Cup finals. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that a great video game from EA is helping the effort. If it works for hockey, why not soccer?
Of course, the key for this to work is Landon Donovan himself. Already the biggest name in US soccer, Donovan became a household name after his epic goal. Notwithstanding anything else that would take place in the tournament, such a move would have to put him on the cover of FIFA 11, a spot he also held for the game’s 2003 and 2007 editions. However, could it really be anyone else? Bilbey’s not talking. But if it is him, one could expect that this year’s FIFA 11 could rival even Madden in terms of popularity.
Now let’s just hope there’s a minigame where you can beat the people who bring those damn vuvuzelas.