I feel like sharing a bit of history, from my perspective.
I’ve been playing football games since at least 1996, when FIFA was, well… FIFA and PES was still International Superstar Soccer (before metamorphosing into Winning Eleven and then PES).
In the earlier days, EA Sports (FIFA) was always playing catch-up to Konami (ISS, W11, PES). Konami had the better gameplay and more features. ISS, and later Winning Eleven, were game centre favourites. You’d be hard-pressed to see any EA games at game centres. My first of experience of FIFA, I believe was FIFA 98 or 96. I either played it a friend’s house or I was loaned it.
The first copy of FIFA I owned was FIFA 2000 on PC. This was supposed to be the best version (graphics and everything was just better than on console versions) but as much as I enjoyed it, I always had Winning Eleven envy. Gameplay was much better, skill and tactics mattered and the players moved more realistically. On FIFA, players moved like a kid was dragging them on a table.
The only thing FIFA had better was realistic commentary, variety of customisation options, and all the licensing goodness. After FIFA 2002, I took a break from FIFA.
But everything changed when FIFA 2005 came out. EA did a massive overhaul of the gameplay engine. And all the things I envied on PES had been implemented on FIFA. Better movement, and massive gameplay improvement. And the players looked and moved like their real-life versions.
I still played PES once in a while with friends at school or at game centres, but FIFA became my favourite. Since then, I feel like PES has been playing catch-up. I’ve never bothered to go into the details of what happened but I suspect massive poaching and recruitment by EA.
I stopped playing games for a while after 2006/2007. But since I got back, I’ve only had the chance to play FIFA 19. I have no experience with any new iterations of PES but the general sentiment I continue to see online is that FIFA is much preferred.