“EA Sports, it’s in the game” has been the introduction to the Fifa-based franchise of simulated football games for almost three decades, but after next year the agreement between the two entities – Electronic Arts and the Fifa – will be no more.
To some, Fifa is synonymous with the annual football simulator, while to others, it is the only football game they have ever known; and to many more it is their only interaction with the beautiful game.
To put it in perspective, since this relationship started in 1993 between EA and Fifa, it has sold 325 million copies, has been released in 18 languages and 51 countries, and has generated more than R325-billion in sales in the past two decades alone.
To say that the Fifa games are a cultural touchstone and juggernaut would be an understatement. Indeed, many of us will have exhilarating memories of beating a close mate or acquaintance, which grants eternal bragging rights until death do you part – in Fifa only.
EA Sports' football video game franchise will be known as EA Sports FC from 2023 onward after the company failed to reach an agreement with FIFA on a new deal 🎮 pic.twitter.com/cn1U1ApvnW— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 10, 2022
I recall one such story now. In my early 20s, when the liver was still willing to enjoy the nightlife of Melville, Greenside and Parkhurst, my roommate and I returned from one such jaunt filled with beer and merriment – perhaps even a Sweet Meat pizza from Catz – with rowdy talk of a nut-kicking in Fifa.
There was violence in our fingers that night as we slammed the buttons of our Xbox controllers, with a fair dab of good banter for good measure.
My roomie had the better of me that night, trashing my Chelsea team with his preferred Liverpool repeatedly – and then repeating the feat with Barca and Real, Inter and Milan, Pirates and Chiefs, until he decreed with confidence, arrogance even, that he could beat me with any side.
FIFA are working on proposals to bring in regulation on football agents in an attempt to stop so much money going out of the game. 💰 @SkyKaveh explains how the new regulations will work. pic.twitter.com/ZyXeJLtyg4— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 12, 2022
The bet was on, and in my pie-eyed hubris I selected my beloved Blues, while he chose lowly Grimsby. I was convinced victory was mine, but received one helluva beating that every so often down the line he would remind me of.
Such was my best mate’s triumph that six months down the line – then forgotten – he received an unexpected delivery at our abode. In his well-oiled state, and long after I had jumped on my bed after its next rotation, he had gone online and at quite a hefty price, ordered a Grimsby jersey as a spoil of war.
His wallet regretted it but it will always be a reminder of a brilliant evening shared by two mates bound together forever by Fifa.
Now Fifa president Gianni Infantino thinks his organisation deserves a bigger cut – up to $5bn annually reportedly – but although EA is also much maligned and hated, the licensed product they produce every year is just as important, holds all the expertise and is generally excellent.
Fifa believes people buy Fifa because of Fifa – they don’t, and good luck to them when they launch their newfangled game in 2024. Methinks that Infantino and Co have shot themselves in the foot and also destroyed an institution with their greed.