PES 2022 is moving to the Unreal Engine ahead of its upcoming launch on PS5 and Xbox Series X and according to a strong source, Konami is looking at making elements of it free to play, too.
The insider in question is VGC’s Andy Robinson, former editor of GamesRadar’s long-time sister site CVG, and a journalist known to have sources within the Japanese publisher.
“Konami are flickering to life,” he says in the most recent VCG Off The Record podcast (opens in new tab). “There’s going to be new stuff with PES this year, I hear, where they’re going to go properly free-to-play and really change it up. You’re starting to see stuff with the tech demo that they put into PS5.”
How exactly could this play out in PES 2022? It’s unlikely we’ll ever see PES become a series where you unlock every match option, club, and kit without spending a penny. But there is a precedent for this: In December 2020, Konami quietly launched PES 2021 Lite, a free-to-play version of PES 2021 with a limited number of in-game options.
In PES 2021 Lite you can sample a quick match, play co-op or practice skills with five clubs: Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus, Manchester United and Arsenal. Much like the FIFA 21 web app all areas of MyClub are available, and there’s also an edit mode on PS4 and PC, complete with the option of importing other fan-made data.
It feels likely, then, that PES 2021 Lite – combined with that recent PES 2022 tech demo – was a testbed for expanding on the series' free-to-play element with next-gen, which corroborates Robinson’s insider take. There’s still no release date for the new game, but we expect it to be in September.
For more on what experiences are worth playing if you're into your sport, check out our list of the best sports games.