Most video games, even blockbuster sequels, exist in a kind of isolation. You treat each one like a self-contained entertainment experience. Football/soccer games, though, live in a very different reality than most video games. For one, they’re sports games, which means a new one is released every year, a schedule that presents challenges to developers and problems for fans, who have to pick through bullshit bullet-point marketing to decide whether it’s worth playing a game that’s likely very similar to one they spent months playing last year.
Instead of being a single game that we look at in a vacuum and treat on its own merits, each year’s release is merely the latest chapter in ongoing sagas.
FIFA and PES are like Batman and The Joker, their entire existence defined by the presence of the other. You can’t play PES without talking about FIFA’s licenses, and you can’t play FIFA without talking about PES’ gameplay, because those things are as much a result of targeting the competitor’s weaknesses as their own inherent strengths.