After three decades bringing to life FIFA game series – one of the video games industry’s most beloved franchises, Electronic Arts and its EA Sports subsidiary announced that it would be ending its partnership with FIFA, the worlds leading football governing body.
EA will still keep much of the likenesses of teams and players that made its games so popular, thanks to separate licensing deals with global soccer leagues England, Spain, Italy, Germany, the United States, and European football governing body, UEFA. The likes of Premier League & UEFA will remain tied to the game and FIFA 23 is set to be its last edition in its current iteration. While EA Sports video games lost their FIFA branding, EA Sports has individual deals with 300 clubs and leagues worldwide, which allows for player names, clubs, and competitions to still exist within the game following a change.
The publishers flagship football title, is set to be the final EA football title to feature the FIFA branding. As a result, the publishers flagship soccer game, known simply as FIFA, will rebrand to EA Sports FC starting in 2023. Instead, EA Sports FC will launch starting in 2023, following the manufacturers creation of a definitive title alongside FIFA at the end of the year. Electronic Arts announced Tuesday its rebranded football title, EA Sports FC, will be introduced starting in 2023 following the release of the final game in its partnership with FIFA later this year.
EA Sports also said that it would continue with the yearly convention of numbering releases of FIFA games under its new partnership. EA worked with FIFA to produce branded separate FIFA World Cup titles every four years from 1998 through 2014, and introduced a standalone FIFA mode in its profitable digital collectible Ultimate Team card game for FIFA 14. The FIFA World Cup and other events that FIFA controls would not be available in the new EA Sports Soccer Franchise games.
Reports indicate FIFA 23 is set to be released later this year as the last game under the EA Sports license to use the FIFA name that will expand further on its standalone World Cup mode, as well as including the women’s world cup for the first time in franchise history. Because the partnership does not conclude until next year, the publishers flagship football title will feature the Qatar 2022 World Cup. This means FIFAs ending of the partnership with it does not prevent FIFA from developing new games, as they will tap into third parties and publishers over the coming years, with plans currently being made to have a new, big-ticket title by 2024.
Looking forward, it is clear EA is banking on the passion for football’s governing body, FIFA, players picking EA Sports FC instead, while FIFA has already indicated that they will be looking at alternative development partners for competing football games of their own. In a statement, FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced that FIFA is already in development stages of new video games with other developers and partners, expanding to other areas in the VR and games space, as well as creating rival products to EA Sports video games.
For that series, EA has agreed nearly 300 separate licensing deals with international leagues and tournaments, the New York Times noted, and those all remain in place in the new game. Over the past two decades, the EA Sports football series has generated more than $20 billion in sales during FIFAs collaboration with EA Sports. While EA Sports has several other popular sports video game franchises, including Madden (American football), NHL (hockey), the PGA Tour (golf) and Formula One (racing), the company says FIFA is its biggest moneymaker. EA Sports has been making FIFA games for almost 30 years, and its warm relationship with the games tens of millions of global players helped the Zurich-based organizations brand when it was damaged amid the wave of arrests of football officials in 2015.