FIFA video game to be rebranded 'EA Sports FC' after partnership ends
The hugely successful FIFA video game series, which dates back to 1993's release of FIFA International Soccer, is set to end when the Women's World Cup concludes in August 2023.
FIFA, soccer's global governing body, and EA Sports, its biggest commercial partner, failed to reach an agreement to extend a partnership that's drawn 150 million players. Part of the separation was due to FIFA demanding at least double the annual $150-million fee it gets from the video game developer and publisher, according to The New York Times' Tariq Panja.
The new name for the series is "EA Sports FC."
"If (FIFA) is not No. 1, it's certainly in the top three game franchises of all time," Gareth Sutcliffe, a senior analyst specializing in the video games sector at Enders Analysis, told Panja. "And the reason for that is there are so many releases. Every year, they change the number on the box, put a new player on the front, and it's pretty much the same under the hood."
Top leagues across the globe have since confirmed they'll be part of EA Sports FC. EA Sports retains the rights to use the sport's biggest clubs and stars because of separate licensing deals with organizations like UEFA and numerous competitions and clubs. However, FIFA-controlled tournaments, such as the World Cup, will be off-limits.
Sales of the video game series surpassed $20 billion over the past two decades. FIFA is now expected to try to find a new digital partner to address the huge financial deficit its break from EA Sports will cause. It'd be limited in what's available in any game it makes because EA Sports FC boasts exclusive access to the Champions League, Premier League, and other huge soccer competitions.
"If you're breaking a relationship that goes back over 20 years, there will be consequences," Sutcliffe said. "EA will continue to motor on: They have got all the technological smarts, the creative implementation of an absolutely fantastic football game - and it really is fantastic. But what do FIFA have? Their name. And then what?"
FIFA's name arguably lacks the prestige it had when it last signed a deal with EA Sports 10 years ago. The body is still reeling from a major corruption scandal in 2015, and its popularity has also suffered due to strong criticism of some of its proposals, such as hosting the World Cup every two years.
FIFA said it would launch a "number of new non-simulation games (that) are already under production" prior to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November.
"I can assure you that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans," FIFA president Gianni Infantino added.