By James Browning
EA Sports has ended their licensing deal with FIFA, and plans to move ahead with its wildly popular football simulation game franchise under new branding.
Originally signed 10 years ago, the deal is estimated to have been worth $150 million per year to FIFA. FIFA allegedly wanted its license fee doubled as well as an end to its digital brand exclusivity, allowing it to lend the FIFA name to other products, including other video games.
It is worth noting that this deal only concerns the FIFA brand, not the rights to players or leagues. Unsurprisingly then, considering that the game franchise has arguably done more to make FIFA a household name than anything else, publisher Electronic Arts chose not to renew.
Fans can still expect FIFA 23 in the third or forth quarter of this year, but it will be the final EA game to bear the title.
EA has stated it has no plans to stop making its line of iconic games that will continue under the banner of EA Sports FC. EA will retain the rights to the likenesses of around 19 000 players over 700 teams on top of 100 stadiums and 30 leagues from all around the world.
Aside from losing access to FIFA-associated tournaments, such as the World Cup, it seems likely to be a change in name alone for the game franchise. This is especially true considering the sports game genre’s reputation for a lack of innovation. While the franchise will be continuing mostly business as usual under the new name, it’s worth noting the huge cultural legacy that FIFA has built since the first game in 1994.
The name FIFA has become more associated with the game franchise than the football organisation, with FIFA becoming a household name synonymous with soccer simulation gaming. Far from just dominating the sports game genre, the EA FIFA games currently sit as the seventh best-selling video game franchise worldwide, beating Minecraft sales by just under a million copies and falling just behind Grand Theft Auto.
Aside from it’s understandable popularity globally in places where football is very culturally significant, the franchise played a large role in stirring interest in soccer in the United States. The soundtracks for the games have also consistently been taste-makers across the globe.
FIFA has announced that multiple non-simulation games are being developed to be released under their brand. Despite stating that it plans to create a “new gaming model”, it seems unlikely that these new titles will make much of a dent in EA’s well-established market share.