Following earlier rumours, Konami has now confirmed its next football sim will be completely free-to-play. Traditionally titled Pro Evolution Soccer, the franchise has now been renamed to simply eFootball. The game will only be available digitally and will launch on PlayStation 5 and PS4 this autumn. Cross-play across all versions of the game (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and smartphones) is one of the release's biggest selling points, with cross-generation matches (PS5 vs PS4) available at launch before cross-platform matches (PlayStation vs PC vs Xbox) arrive slightly later.

eFootball has now ditched the FOX Engine of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, now opting for a custom-built one using Unreal 4. When it launches, the title will offer "local matches using renowned clubs". That includes Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester United, River Plate, and apparent Super League club Arsenal. Later in the year, online leagues and a team building mode will both be rolled out. There will also be a Match Pass System, which looks a lot like the usual Battle Pass. More modes will then be sold as DLC.

eFootball Roadmap

Peter Drury and Jim Beglin will both return as English commentators, and the Option Files feature will also be making a comeback — although that will be after launch. As for how Konami will approach future updates, users will no longer have to buy yearly releases. Free updates will instead be deployed to coincide with the new seasons.

As part of a press release, series producer Seitaro Kimura said: "With the added power of new-generation consoles and by working closely with elite footballers, eFootball delivers our most tense and realistic gameplay to date. We’ll share specific gameplay details next month, so stay tuned."

The move represents a major shift in how sports games are developed, with Konami embracing the model hardcore fans have suggested across message boards for years. It will still face stiff competition from EA's FIFA series, though. FIFA 22 is talking a big game this year with HyperMotion gameplay and the ability to create your own club in career mode. More eFootball details will be shared in August, but what do you make of this initial pitch? Excited by the free-to-play prospect? Let us know in the comments below.