Some people may find it difficult to get themselves back there once a three-decade relationship has broken down. It’s not FIFA, the world soccer governing body, which on Tuesday announced an ambitious plan to produce several FIFA-branded video games with multiple developers and publishers — just hours after its former licensing partner, Electronic Arts, announced it was ending its relationship with FIFA.
Until now, FIFA has maintained an exclusive licensing agreement with EA for both simulated and non-simulated titles, which means that only EA can make soccer video games with the FIFA name and logos. This deal was due to expire this year, but the parties signed a “short-term extension”, according to FIFA, under which FIFA 23 It will be the last EA game to be branded with FIFA. EA’s soccer franchise, which debuted in 1993 with International soccer football On the Sega Genesis, EA Sports FC will be renamed from July 2023.
When it is released this fallFIFA 23 It will not – for the first time – be the only FIFA-branded football video game on the market, although it will still be the only FIFA-branded game simulation Game. FIFA said the aforementioned extension between FIFA and EA “grants rights only to the football simulation category, and frees up broader playing rights to FIFA and different game publishers to release new games and more in-depth experiences for fans and football stakeholders”.
Accordingly, FIFA announced Tuesday that “a number of new non-emulator games are already in production” for release this fall, although it did not name any of the developers or publishers involved. The first of these titles will focus on the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in Qatar from November to December. FIFA said it was also in discussions with partners for gaming projects centered around the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which Australia and New Zealand will host next summer. (Both tournaments will appear in FIFA 23 also.)
After introducing these non-simulated games in 2022 and 2023, FIFA’s plan is to re-introduce a FIFA-branded simulated soccer game to the market in 2024. The organization said it was “currently working with leading game publishers, media companies and investors” on the project. It’s worth noting that for more than a decade, EA Sports FIFA had only one real competitor: Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series, which the publisher relaunched in 2021 as electronic soccer With disastrous results. It wouldn’t be easy for FIFA to find a partner, or for that company to spin a football simulation game from scratch in just a couple of years – not to mention the game comes close to achieving the depth, breadth, and quality of games for a firmly established EA franchise.
FIFA has previously indicated that it intends to move to a system of non-exclusive licensing deals for video games and esports, saying in October 2021 that “this should be a space occupied by more than one party controlling all rights”. The organization was responding by firing on EA, which launched its first missile one week ago, when EA Sports president Cam Weber announced that the publisher was reassessing its long-standing arrangement with FIFA.
Between the release of these two statements, the New York Times reported that the dispute between the two parties was primarily a financial one – EA paid FIFA approximately $150 million annually for the rights, and FIFA was looking to more than double the contract renewal. This amount – but also did not agree to the extent of rights. FIFA wanted the freedom to explore opportunities in the gaming and esports space outside of EA’s video game rankings, while EA wanted to retain control of everything FIFA related to the gaming world. After all, for millions of people, the name FIFA is synonymous with EA Sports as an acronym for the gaming franchise.
This will likely remain true for some time, at least, no matter what EA and FIFA do.
For its part, FIFA included a loud statement from its president, Gianni Infantino, in its announcement on Tuesday: “I can assure you that the only real game with the FIFA name will be the best available to players and football fans. .FIFA’s name is the only global original title. FIFA 23 FIFA 24, FIFA 25, FIFA 26 and so on – constant is the name of FIFA and will always be the best.”
And while EA Sports FC is a perfectly logical name chosen by EA in its rebranding effort, it will be some time before fans stop referring to the franchise as “FIFA,” especially if a FIFA simulation game stumbles from the starting gate as electronic soccer Act.