Last night’s 2-0 victory over Mexico by the U.S. soccer team put the
football soccer club on track to compete in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. While the U.S. team celebrated earning a ticket to Brazil, MLS fans nationwide went wild at the sudden spotlight on their favorite sport. But another group was doing high fives as well. And it’s not one that most U.S. soccer fans would expect to be pulling for them: Microsoft.
Last month at Gamescom, Microsoft announced it would bundle a free copy of FIFA 14 with every Xbox One Day One Edition sold in Europe. At the time, the perception (ours included) was that the Xbox One division was simply pandering to the Gamescom crowd. Now that the U.S. soccer team has defeated Mexico and is going to the FIFA World Cup for the second straight time, Microsoft looks downright brilliant.
Outside of the Olympics, nothing brings the world’s sporting community together like the FIFA World Cup. The 2014 tournament, which the U.S. will now compete in, should stay true to form. In North America and select other countries, the Xbox One release date is Nov. 22, but Microsoft’s next-gen console will ship in eight other European countries in 2014. Yep, at about the same time the FIFA World Cup is getting underway.
Now, what’s the over under on the number of weeks until Microsoft announces a similar FIFA 14 offer for all those other European markets getting the Xbox One in 2014? Electronic Arts, which publishes the FIFA video games, would certainly have to buy into it, and you know Sony’s competing PS4 division would cry foul. But presuming Microsoft could work its B2B marketing magic with EA, the Xbox One would certainly benefit from extending the FIFA 14 promo.
For that matter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Microsoft kick even the U.S.-based co-promotions for FIFA 14 into high gear. The U.S. soccer team last night clinched a 2014 FIFA World Cupappearance after getting off to a slow start against Mexico. The slow start was surely worrisome to soccer fans, as the U.S. in February lost an opening match against Honduras, giving the U.S> soccer team little room for error in the game. Recent performances against Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica had se set the stage for last night’s showdown with Mexico, and after Panama got a draw against Honduras, the U.S. was assured its spot in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Normally the morning sports-radio shows give the U.S. soccer team little air time. Today things were different, as the World Cup — even for those staunch NFL and NBA commentators — is recognized as big news. Any time Colin Cowherd tells his listeners he’s excited about soccer, you know you’ve captured lightning in a bottle. In light of that, what’s to keep Microsoft from entertaining the idea of exploring a FIFA 14 promo in the United States? Awareness will never be higher, at least not where a console launch is concerned.
I’m interested in your thoughts. Now that the U.S. has earned a place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, are you any more interested in playing a FIFA 14 video game? And do you think, like I do, that Microsoft’s seemingly Europe-focused PR stunt could become something much, much larger, even in the States? Or will Sony even let that apparent favoritism happen between EA and Microsoft?