Some disappointing sports news coming over the wire as it appears that EA Sports partnership with FIFA is coming to an end at the end of 2023. This means the wildly popular football (soccer) video game will be no more – well at least in its old capacity.
Electronic Arts will still offer a very similar football game titled EA Sports FC. Although the gameplay will be very indistinguishable from the former version, fans are still already expressing their sadness that the game title that many grew up on will be no more.
What Will Change Moving Forward?
The good news for fans is that most – if not all – of the clubs and players they love taking the pitch with will still be available in EA Sports FC. This is due to separate licensing agreements outside of the FIFA board.
All FIFA-controlled events will cease to exist in the game. The big absence obviously will be no World Cup in EA Sports FC, which is a major blow. Imagine an American football game where instead of playing in the “Super Bowl” your team instead won “the Big Game” at the end of a season.
End of an Era
The franchise first came into fruition in 1993 with the release of FIFA International Soccer and became extremely popular with FIFA 1995, which was the first game to use real clubs and players names. Since then FIFA has gone on to dominate video game sales for the last three decades, actually being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best selling video game of all time – generating roughly $20 billion in revenue the past two decades.
What made the FIFA video game so successful was not only the global popularity of soccer, but also the fact that casual and hardcore football fans found the title just a whole lot of fun to play. In a circle of life kind of way, casual fans who would play FIFA then found themselves getting more into ‘real’ football and in turn growing the brand that way.
What Went Wrong?
As is usually the case, the deal between EA Sports and FIFA folded because of financial concerns. Recent sports news reports are that FIFA wanted nearly double their current $150 million licensing deal if the two were to do an extension. EA Sports also wanted exclusivity though, killing a lot of potential revenue for FIFA with future soccer themed games and apps.
A lot has changed in the 10 years since the last agreement between these two organizations was signed, including FIFA almost folding in 2015 due to corruption scandals. EA Sports is betting on themselves with their agreement to go solo.
What Happens Moving Forward
EA Sports loses the title of a wildly popular football game and will not be able to have the World Cup moving forward – but other than that there’s not a whole lot that’s going to be different moving forward. Electronic Arts has roughly 300 licensing agreements across various sports and leagues including UEFA which runs the Champions League. Deals like this are what will allow EA Sports to continue to use famous players likenesses and club names starting with their EA Sports FC franchise.
FIFA has already announced plans to release a rival game in 2024 but they will face some hurdles specifically not being able to use the Premier League or Champions League because those organizations have licenses with EA Sports. Competition can be a good thing for gamers, as maybe the new release from FIFA will be less expensive, plus the two companies will continue to tweak and improve game play to stay on top of the other.
EA Sports is going to be alright as well. They own the ‘bones’ of the game that fans love and now just have to incorporate a name change. Plus EA Sports was kind of restricted due to FIFA’s policies on sponsorships, now Electronic Arts is out from underneath that, and now have the ability to offer more direct-to-consumer products and deals.
The landscape of football gaming will look different moving forward, but change is not always bad.