Video game giant EA Sports set to end partnership with football body FIFA

Video game giant EA Sports set to end partnership with football body FIFA

Electronic Arts has announced that it would no longer produce Fifa-branded football games.

It is one of the most profitable gaming brands ever, but the expense of the license was one of the factors in the decision to end the collaboration.

EA will continue to develop football video games, but they will be branded as EA Sports FC starting in 2023.

Fifa says it plans to release its own rival games, saying: “The Fifa name is the only global, original title.”

Since 1993, EA Sports has been in charge of the FIFA franchise.

While the gaming mechanics and primary styles of play will be comparable to what players have come to anticipate in previous years, this move will likely see the title provide a greater selection of other experiences in addition to playing.

EA Sports vice president David Jackson told the BBC that the studio believes it is time to take a fresh approach in order to create a “brand for the future”.

Although the specifics of those experiences are still unknown, it’s reasonable to think that being able to watch real-life matches, participate in Fortnite-style live in-game events, and access a wider selection of branded in-game merchandise are all things EA would like to be able to provide.

Jackson says: “The world of football and the world of entertainment are changing, and they clash within our product.

“In the future our players will demand of us the ability to be more expansive in that offering. At the moment, we engage in play as a primary form of interactive experience. Soon, watching and creating content are going to be equally as important for fans.

“Under the licensing conventions that we had agreed with Fifa 10 years ago, there were some restrictions that weren’t going to allow us to be able to build those experiences for players.”

The success of the Fifa franchise may be attributed in part to comprehensive license arrangements that enabled realistic renderings of club uniforms, players’ faces, and stadiums on screen.

For years, players have been allowed to play as Premier League teams like as Liverpool, although competing games such as Pro Evolution Soccer included fake sides such as Merseyside Red.

EA claims to have signed up 19,000 athletes, 700 teams, 100 stadiums, and over 30 leagues for future games, indicating that they will continue to deliver real-world experiences.

The Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Uefa are among them.

However, this implies that games like Fifa: Road to World Cup 98, which were launched to coincide with the World Cup, will no longer be created by EA.

There will be one last Fifa game, with this year’s edition – Fifa 23 – going on sale in the autumn, as is customary.

In late 2023, EA Sports FC will be released.

EA is one of the gaming companies that has received criticism for its in-game purchasing policy. Several concerns regarding their new brand will undoubtedly revolve around the business model and monetisation ambitions, which have yet to be announced.

The move is a gamble for EA, whose fortunes have been closely tied with Fifa for decades, and Jackson accepts that, saying: “It’s a big moment for the organisation. Interactive football experiences have been central to what has made EA Sports successful over the last 30 years.”

It will be critical for the corporation to keep crucial licensing deals in the future if the bulk of the millions of present Fifa gamers transfer to the new title. They are a crucial component of its success.

The last licensing agreement between Electronic Arts and Fifa was signed in 2013, and it was claimed that the price of the license had increased dramatically, this time to more than $1 billion each four-year world cup cycle.

When asked if moving away from Fifa was purely a financial decision, Jackson said “it wasn’t ultimately down to money” but accepted it did play a crucial role in the decision-making process.

“Money plays a critical role in most negotiations, but the reason we are doing this is to create the very best experiences we can for both players and partners. As part of that, you consider whether or not your investment in one place is better or worse than an investment in another.

“On balance, over time, we felt that our investments were better suited in spaces that were most important to players, like the different experiences we can now build in the game. For our partners, it’s the way we can welcome and engage them into a platform that talks to 150 million young football fans around the world.”

Fifa said on its website that it will release new football video games developed in collaboration with a variety of third-party studios and publishers, giving football and gaming enthusiasts additional options in the run-up to the World Cup in Qatar and beyond.

Fifa said it is collaborating with prominent game publishers, media businesses, and investors to build a significant new Fifa simulation game title in 2024, in addition to delivering new games in 2022 and 2023.

Gianni Infantino, the President of Fifa says in the statement: “I can assure you that the only authentic, real game that has the Fifa name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans.”

“The constant is the Fifa name and it will remain forever and remain the best.”

EA Sports seem confident that their approach is right: “Change is always going to be concerning for people at first,” says David Jackson.

“In terms of things that they’ll miss, players will notice only two things: The name and a World Cup piece of content every four years. Outside of that, very little will change about the things they know and love about the current Fifa products.

“Probably the easiest thing that we could have done would have been to maintain the status quo. Fifa has been an incredibly successful game over time, but there are moments when you need to consider what the future looks like and we feel like building our own brand is the best for us.”

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