I was writing what was turning into a really long post about my thoughts on the current rumors that Electronic Arts was looking to move away from its relationship with FIFA. I was going on too many tangents and I was losing the point. To make it easier, I’ve broken it down into a few points that I think it’s worth mentioning
I do think EA will not renew their deal with FIFA
EA’s focus on soccer/football video games has expanded greatly since the 90s and early 00s. In the past, unless you lived in England, Italy, Spain, and the other major European leagues it was difficult to catch matches featuring those major clubs. Now, it’s super accessible. On top of that, it’s clear that most fans of the sport care more about the players and the clubs they play for not the countries they might play a dozen times each year.
FIFA 22 only has 33 men’s international teams. They haven’t released a standalone FIFA World Cup game in nearly eight years. EA’s focus is on its relationships with the major European leagues and continuing its partnership with the UEFA Champions League. Why would EA pay to use the name FIFA when the biggest and best athletes play in the major leagues in Europe? It doesn’t make sense.
I don’t think it will hurt either company’s long-term goals.
FIFA, the organization, wants a bigger role in the eSports scene. The FIFA Interactive World Cup was huge back in the day and with their push towards a more “National-angle” with gaming events, it makes sense. EA’s major gaming events focus on Ultimate Team.
Konami had success in earlier years with National team events, including last year’s Euro tournament. FIFA could do the same thing and bring in a wider audience. But, for that to happen, they need a solid product, which they’d need help with.
Again, EA has its club and league partnerships and those won’t change anytime soon. Konami could approach FIFA and try to get the FIFA license but the cost might be too high. There aren’t any established developers who could churn out a game quickly that FIFA would feel comfortable working with.
EA will still make FIFA games, just not the FIFA games we know
I’ve already said that I think EA won’t renew their current deal, I do think they’ll still work together, just on a different kind of soccer game. FIFA needs a game and EA’s soccer game is still the top dog. FIFA will approach EA to help them release a World Cup-focused soccer game that will only feature international teams and rely heavily on online play. It also won’t be released annually.
Think of it in the same vein as games like Fortnite, World of Warcraft, and countless other online-focused games. You’ll have a core game that won’t change too much but we’ll get updates with new kits, updated rosters, and stadiums. I’m not sure if it will go completely free-to-play with a reliance on those seasonal content updates.
All while FIFA has a game that they have more control over, EA will shift their focus on releasing a soccer game that focuses more on the many leagues and clubs in Europe and hopefully around the world. If people want to play as the French or German National Teams, they can play FIFA. If they want to play as Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich, they can play the new game.
Don’t bet on EA SPORTS FC being the name of EA’s next soccer/football game
EA SPORTS FC already exists. EA has used the EASFC moniker for a decade. As a former employee, I have two EA SPORTS FC T-Shirts. I don’t think it’s a good name for a soccer/football game because it’s a singular term and too generic.
When EA moves away from the FIFA branding, it will go in one of two directions. Because this game will feature multiple leagues from around the world, they can’t go with something like “Premier League 2024” or “UEFA Champions League 2023-24”. I could see them calling their game “Global Football 2024” but that sounds too generic.
The logical move would be to associate their game with a current or former player in the same vein as what they’ve done in the past with Tiger Woods PGA Tour. The question here is who they’d approach. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the logical choices. My bet is on CR7 because of his affinity for doing brand deals. He would definitely eat up the chance to have something like “Cristiano Ronaldo Global Football 2024” on store shelves.
No, I am not worried
Again, this isn’t the end of EA SPORTS soccer/football games. Even if FIFA goes with a third company or invests in opening up its own studio, this will only be a good thing for sports gamers. EA still has its partnerships with the major leagues and those won’t be going away anytime soon.