It may seem surprising considering the sales juggernaut it became but Electronic Arts wasn't initially keen on making the first installment in the long running FIFA series. "EA didn't give a sh*t about FIFA," says former EA marketing man Neil Thewarapperuma. In a great retrospective posted on MCV, some of the original design team recall how they had to twist EA's arm into expanding their sports range into including football.
“I said that we should be in the worldwide football business," says Bruce McMillian of EA Canada, one of the original FIFA Soccer two development teams. "But when I first said that, EA was like: ‘well we are already in the football business with Madden.’ I said: ‘No, I mean proper football.'"
Up until that point, Sensible Soccer was my favourite, with it's fast action and top down viewpoint. The FIFA dev team had to come up with a new approach to Football that would win fans away from their rival.
The isometric viewpoint was cribbed from a prototype volleyball game but it was something that set it apart from it's top-down brethren. Whilst the development was split between Canada and the UK, the final game sold half a million units in a month and firmly established the series. I miss the older, more arcade stylings of the original FIFA (and Sensi) but I can see how EA are keen to really simulate the full football experience with the newer FIFA games.