While North American sports gamers eagerly anticipate the new version of Madden, it appears the world waits for the latest FIFA video game.
Some 1.99 million people in 73 countries downloaded the demo for the made-in-Canada "FIFA Soccer 13" in the first three days of its release.
The game isn't out until Sept. 25 in North America and Sept. 28 worldwide but it's already hard to miss. Advertising hoardings promoting the new version were visible at English Premier League games on the weekend.
For Aaron McHardy, a game play producer of the EA Sports' title, the attention is quite remarkable.
"It's quite a cool thing," said the Vancouver native who has been working on the title since FIFA 08. "At home everyone knows FIFA, you tell people you're the game play designer for FIFA, you still get a smile.
"But it's quite breathtaking when you go to somewhere like London around (this) week or the week after and you start to see the signs and the lineups of people overnight waiting to get the game, it really is cool to see what an impact the game has worldwide. ... Everywhere you go, somebody knows what FIFA (the game) is."
The demo features five teams — AC Milan, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Manchester City — as well as Man City's Etihad Stadium.
And for those who haven't tried it yet, be warned that Manchester City's Argentine striker Carlos Tevez is a terror.
"I've heard people are finding him quite good this year," McHardy, an Arsenal fan, said with a laugh.
After rehauling the physics of the game last year, improving areas like tactical defending, the designers at EA Canada in Burnaby, B.C., saw the opportunity to build on those changes in "FIFA 13."
McHardy said the goals this time were to create "the unpredictability and the drama of real-world football" and to have "battles for possession and giving people creativity and freedom."
That turned into so-called features as first-touch control, attacking intelligence, and complete dribbling.
There's also more creativity surrounding free kicks, both on offence and defence.
The player impact engine was revamped last year, adding in real-word physical movement to improve the look of fumbles and falls. This year, more features have been added with more life-like defending in terms of pushing and pulling an opponent to battle for possession.
You can reach out with your arm to harass an attacker. But be too aggressive and the referee will penalize or yellow-card you.
On attack, players work harder to get open, making curving runs to stay onside or elude defenders.
It's all about polishing the product, with gamer feedback playing its part. Defences in "FIFA 11" were hard to break down, developers found, for example. Hence the need to expand the attack, to offer more ways to try to exploit the defence.
"Last year was laying that foundation," McHardy said. "This year, we're totally taking advantage of all those things we did last year by building features and behaviours on top of that."
In career mode this year, you can advance to the international arena — another request from gamers.
"FIFA Soccer 13" also offers the online service "Match Day" that provides regular updates to player form. And in-game commentary will reflect real-world events, thanks to previously prepared clips that can pulled out and used at the correct time to "accentuate what's actually happening in the real world."
FIFA Soccer 13 will be available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, Nintendo 3DS, PC, PSP and later this year on the Nintendo Wii U.