EA "underestimated" Konami and the Pro Evolution series in years gone by, FIFA 11's Japanese exec producer, Kaz Makita, has claimed.
Speaking in an interview with CVG, Makita said that in the 'dark days' that FIFA trailed to the Japanese series critically, EA "didn't believe [Konami] had a strong product".
Commenting on the 'dark days' of FIFA, Makita said: "It was sad, because I knew from Japanese history there were a lot of Konami/PES fans in Japan but it wasn't big in Europe yet. Ever since I'd started in the industry people always said: 'Pro Evo is gonna come' - Konami didn't have any licence but their gameplay was very strong.
"Back then, a lot of FIFA code was written in NHL terms - so it didn't really represent football. I think maybe some people at EA underestimated Konami; didn't believe they had a strong product.
"Back in those days I was only a little guy in terms of my dev status, and I had to keep campaigning, campaigning, campaigning! But EA wasn't moving in the direction I was hoping, so that was tough."
As Konami's game got stronger, the FIFA 11 producer says, EA started to realise and changed how its FIFA team worked.
"We had staff changes, mentality changes," he said. "Luckily it was my mission as Line Producer to modify the FIFA engine to appeal to Japanese consumer; our game was called Total Football - I don't know if you guys remember or even know it? We shipped two games but only in Japan; we received good feedback but by then EA had decided they wanted to put more effort into FIFA itself.
"That's when the next-gen gameplay development started, so my role shifted somewhat. Now we're very happy with the fundamentals, our core technical architecture."
This year's FIFA is set to include "seismic improvements," reckons EA, including improved graphics, customisable audio, "massively" improved player AI and 'footballer personality'. Read more details here.
While you're at it, hit the link to read our full, first FIFA 11 interview.